Night curfew spells bad news for pubs, bars in Noida and Ghaziabad
The decision of the authorities in Noida and Ghaziabad to impose a night curfew from 10pm to 5am has come as a big blow to the hospitality sector, with owners of several restaurants, pubs and bars worrying not only about their business but also about the future of employees, most of whom were called back from their respective hometowns after Covid-19 cases started dropping significantly earlier this year.
“As 2021 started, we saw a growth of 20-25% in sales figures. However, from late March, the growth started dipping due to the new wave of coronavirus. Now that a night curfew has been imposed in Noida and Ghaziabad, we are expecting the business of pubs to dip by 70-75%,” said Yogesh Sharma, owner of The Flying Dutchman restaurant and pub. It has outlets in Ghaziabad’s Indirapuram and Noida’s Wave City Centre in Sector 32.
Usually pubs operate till 1am. However, Sharma added, they will have to close by 9pm so that their staff can reach home before the night curfew starts at 10pm.
Shailendra Rao, a manager at Black Club+Café at Gaur City Mall in Noida Extension, said, “All pub owners are in a fix. We were yet to recover losses incurred last year and now again, we have the night curfew. The footfall was increasing earlier this year but is back to zero now”.
Even fine-dining restaurants are feeling the pinch of the night curfew.
“Family dining starts from 9.30pm onwards. A night curfew from 10pm is going to affect our business badly. We are not in favour of night curfew at all,” said Rajkumar Tomar, owner of Mystery of Food kitchen and bar, and Kafe Republic, both located in Ghaziabad’s Indirapuram.
Owners of pubs and restaurants are hoping that the night curfew does not get extended beyond April 17.
“We are all very scared if the night curfew gets extended further. Just recently, we called our staff back from their hometowns and got the business running. The sudden night curfew is likely to affect jobs again. Business at pubs only starts post 8pm. How will we survive?,” said Sharad Madan,co-owner at Imperfecto chain of restaurants and pubs. Two of its outlets are in Noida’s Sector 32 and 38 and one has been recently launched in Indirapuram.
He added that customers are visiting pubs and restaurants as they feel safe when they see that Covid-19 protocols are being followed.“When customers themselves see social distancing and other protocols being followed, they appreciate it and come back again as they feel confident about the safety of the place. Night curfews single out restaurants and pubs that stay open till late night and this does not seem fair to us,” added Madan.
Anurag Katriar, president of National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI), questioned the rationale behind the night curfew. “The night curfew has been imposed till April 17 and I don’t think Covid cases are going to reduce in such a short span of time. I fear it (night curfew) may get extended. Having said that, I don’t understand if night curfews help arrest the spread of the virus. The hospitality industry is the worst hit when a night curfew is imposed. Things had recently started looking up but this night curfew has come as a big blow to us,” he said.
“All restaurants are working in a very controlled environment, following all Covid protocols and working with limited capacity. So how can that be dangerous for the spread of the virus while other services, such as public transport, are running during the day with full capacity? The hospitality sector is with the government in its fight against coronavirus. But the government should also look at us as partners and not barriers. They should not single us out,” said Katriar.
Experts, on the other hand, say that while the night curfew may affect businesses, it is one step in the right direction to curtail the spread of coronavirus.
“Large groups of people tend to stay at pubs and restaurants for a long time and since they have to eat and drink, they remove their masks. Such places then turn out to be super spreaders. Night curfew will help close all such establishments that stay open till late at night,” said Dr K K Aggarwal, former president and member of the Indian Medical Association, (IMA) Noida.
Meanwhile, district magistrate of Noida Suhas L Y said the night curfew has been imposed for the ‘greater good’.
“While I understand that the hospitality sector may be affected by the night curfew, this is not an ideal time as a global pandemic is prevailing at this time. We have to impose restrictions for the greater good of the society,” said Suhas.