Malls, restaurants draw up plans to restart businesses but with restrictions
Restaurant owners said they are working on a set of plans such as opening with just 30% to 50% seating capacity, putting a cap on parking facility to ensure less crowding, and presenting patrons with e-copies of drinks and food menus to minimise contact with staff and ensure social distancing.Updated: Jun 07, 2020 04:05 IST
Anticipating that the Delhi government will allow them to reopen businesses after June 8, restaurants and mall owners in the national capital are busy with preparations to open shop after a gap of over 70 days.
Restaurant owners said they are working on a set of plans such as opening with just 30% to 50% seating capacity, putting a cap on parking facility to ensure less crowding, and presenting patrons with e-copies of drinks and food menus to minimise contact with staff and ensure social distancing.
Restaurants and shopping malls have been shut since the nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
The standard operating procedures (SOPs) prepared by the National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI) states that thermal screening of all guests will be compulsory at entry points and all patrons will have to wear masks. Provisions will also be made for special UV light filters, air filters and air purifiers on the premises. The air-conditioners will be kept at a constant temperature between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius.
Manpreet Singh, treasurer NRAI, said, “We are ready to open restaurants as owners are suffering huge losses. We will follow social distancing and other preventive measures. Restaurants will operate at reduced seating capacity of 30% to 50%. All staff members will wear masks, face shields, gloves and hand sanitisers will be placed on all tables. Thermal screening will be mandatory for visitors.”
Singh further said guests will have to sit on alternate tables, and all crockery and cutlery will be sanitised. Visitors will be given sanitised copies of the menu card. They will also have an option of checking the menu on their phones and place orders from their phones while seated inside the restaurant. He said the digital mode of payment will be encouraged.
Sunil Malhotra, of Embassy Restaurant in Connaught Place, said, “It is not yet clear when the government will allow us to open. But when the nod comes, we will follow all guidelines issued by the central and state government.”
Sandeep Khandelwal, president, Delhi Hotel and Restaurants Owners Association, said, “Nearly 50% of the workforce has returned to their home towns and so we will have to operate with fewer staff members. We want that the government to consult us before taking a call on the opening.”
Over 40 mall owners on Saturday convened a meeting with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) trade wing and appealed to the government to allow the opening of malls.
Brijesh Goel, AAP’s Delhi trade wing convener, said there are nearly 100 malls and shopping centres in the city. “The government gets about ₹3 -10 crore revenue a month from each mall. Due to the closure of malls, the government is losing about ₹500 crore a month. A decision regarding the opening of malls is likely to be taken next week,” Goel said.
Harshvardhan Bansal, owner of Unity Mall Group, said closure of malls has caused a job crisis for 10,000-odd employees.
“We will have separate entry and exit points in every mall and all employees will be required to wear face shields and masks. Visitors will undergo thermal screening at every entry point and guards will also wear perosnal protective equipment kits, if required,” he said.
A spokesperson at Select City Walk mall said they have prepared SOPs which include markings on the floor to help visitors and retail outlets maintain social distancing.
“Parking will be restricted and will be kept to 50% of the total capacity, and we are looking at having contactless service. There will also be proper markings at counters and cash registers to prevent crowding, Plexiglas shields at all checkout points are also being looked into. Markings for social distancing will be made on escalators; whereas elevators will operate with a maximum of four people at a time,” the spokesperson said.
“We will have isolation rooms and various retail outlets are formulating guidelines on the trials and return / exchange of products and will be as per the policies of individual brands,” the person said.