Ludhiana’s hospitality sector cheers night curfew roll back
Marriage palace owners, restaurateurs and hoteliers have reason to cheer as night curfew has been lifted at long last and the ceiling on guests has been extended.
Stakeholders say this will be a shot in the arm for the Covid-hit hospitality sector, which had been reeling under losses for around three months after the government restricted gatherings in March and subsequently imposed a night curfew amid an escalating Covid crisis.
Owners of marriage palaces, hotels and banquet halls say resumption of nighttime weddings has improved their chances of weathering the slump in business caused due to months of closure during the first and second waves of the pandemic.
Citing the low positivity rate in the state, the state government has allowed gatherings of 100 people indoors and 200 persons outdoors from July 12. Though Sunday lockdown restrictions had been lifted on June 27, night curfew from 8pm and 5am continued across the district.
Marriage Palace Welfare Association president and owner of Shehanshah Palace on Ferozepur Road Amarjit Singh Sant said, “Hundreds of events were cancelled and our business came to a standstill when the government scaled down the strength of public gatherings to 20 in March. Business failed to pick up when the ceiling was increased to 50 in mid-June. Those who had taken resorts on lease had to wind up their business as they could not afford to make payments.”
“With gatherings up to 200 people allowed, we are hopeful that we will get some bookings in the coming days. Our staff is vaccinated, and we will adhere to the government’s guidelines,” said Sant.
Punjab Marriages And Resorts Association general secretary and owner of Regency Garden in Mullanpur, Gurpreet Singh Malhi, said, “Though people will not start hosting events immediately, the announcement has come as a major relief. We are expecting a positive response in a week or so. We will at least be able to cover fixed expenses such as salaries, power bill, and bank instalments. The sector may not be able to survive another lockdown as we have suffered many setbacks since the outbreak of the pandemic.”
More families will venture out: Restauranteurs, traders
Restaurateurs have also hailed the move as customers prefer to dine out with their families after 8pm. Owner of Bruu Kiln on Malhar Road, Typsy Bal, said that even after the government allowed the restaurants to stay open till 7:30pm, many of restaurant owners kept the unit shut due to the low footfall. “Now, we will open the units as bars have also been allowed to open. Things will slowly come back on track.”
The state government had shut down dine-in facility at restaurant from April 20. Home delivery and takeaways were allowed subsequently. Dine-in facility was resumed in mid-June and the bars were allowed to open at 50% capacity from July 1 during the curfew relaxation period.
Hotel and Restaurant Association president Amarvir Singh said, “The announcement will certainly give a push to the business as people will start holding social events. The footfall in the restaurants will also increase as the restriction of working at 50% capacity have also been removed from bars. We are taking all precautions and the staff has also been vaccinated. We expect that the government will further ease restrictions on gatherings so that the business can bounce back.”
Traders say abolition of night curfew will improve footfall in markets as people will venture to popular haunts like the Sarabha Nagar Market, and Model Town Market in the evening. Sarabha Nagar Main Market Traders’ Association chairperson Wangjenn Chiu (Wong) said, “People visit the Sarabha Nagar Market to spend leisure time with their families and friends in the evening . The move to abolish the night curfew will certainly increase the footfall in the market, but we appeal residents to take all precautions to avoid a third wave of the pandemic.”