Restaurants, theatres to bear the brunt

NEW DELHI: With the Delhi government imposing a night curfew in the national capital from 10 pm to 5 am till April 30, non-essential services such as restaurants, bars, malls and theatres will have to work within the stipulated hours.

The development will impede the nascent recovery these businesses had just be registering.

“We were just about to recover our losses and we are back to where to started,” said restauranteur Akshay Anand, co-founder of Ophelia and Toy Room. Anand will keep his night club Toy Room shut for the rest of this month as crowds walk in post 11 pm. “Sales had finally picked up and a big chunk came after 10pm. With the onset of summer we had bet on business generated in the late hours of the day,” he said.

On Monday, Delhi reported 3,548 cases, pushing the positivity rate in the national capital to 5.54% – the highest since 2 December. India has been witnessing an unabated surge in fresh coronavirus infections, with 96,982 new cases registered in the last 24 hours. Maharashtra has reported the highest daily jump at 47,288.

Zorawar Kalra, owner of Massive Restaurants Pvt Ltd with brand such as Farzi Café and Masala Library, said the past year has been very difficult for all. “The new measures in place are understandably the need of the hour but will have a huge impact on sales and on the survivability of the industry as a whole. Takeaway and delivery alone cannot sustain a restaurant enterprise. Already there was a 50% cap and now this will definitely affect business in a huge way.”

Anand said he is likely to ask his staff to come on alternate days to ensure everyone gets paid.

Fresh restrictions are bound to impact consumer sentiment and hit struggling cinemas, restaurants and food courts, said Abhishek Bansal, executive director, Pacific India that operates malls in the Delhi-NCR region.

Night curfew in Delhi will add to the woes of cinema owners, reeling under the impact of the shutdown in Maharashtra. Having to wrap up operations by 10 pm will essentially mean doing away with a couple of night shows and having to start the last show of the day by 6 pm.

Kunal Sawhney, senior vice-president, operations and F&B, Carnival Cinemas, said curfews are bad for the general consumer psyche. “There was a good hike in admits in the past few weeks. Night curfew in Delhi will affect 25-30% of our business as the last show will now be at 6 pm instead of 11pm or so. Mostly families come for night shows, ticket prices are different and they spend a little more on food and beverage as well,” he said.

“This is a massive blow to film business,” said Yusuf Shaikh, business head, feature films at production and distribution company Percept Pictures adding that the impact will last way beyond April. Towards the end of the month producers will begin to take a call on films scheduled for May such as Salman Khan’s Radhe and John Abraham’s Satyameva Jayate 2, both big-budget projects. “There is complete uncertainty looming right now,” Shaikh said.

However, unlike Maharashtra, the state with the highest covid caseload as of now, Delhi has not announced a blanket shut down of non-essential stores.

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