Karnataka’s nighttime curfew harms restaurant industry

While December is the peak revenue period for restaurants, the nighttime curfew is preventing Bengaluru’s hospitality industry from recovering from the pandemic.

As the new year approaches with renewed fears of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai announced on Sunday December 26 that a nighttime curfew would be in place statewide from December 28. to January 7. movement of people between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Apart from that, he also said New Years celebrations in clubs, bars and other establishments would be banned. As the government intends to curb the spread of the virus, for the hotel industry, which was just starting to recover after two tumultuous years, this decision will be detrimental.

“This is the time we look forward to all year. This is when we were able to make up for some of the losses we suffered during our closure, ”said Mukesh Tolani, head of the Bengaluru section of the National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI). In Bangalore, there are many restaurants, pubs and bars massively hosting New Years Eve parties, with heavy spending on entertainment, decoration etc. However, with the new restrictions suddenly imposed, establishments are not only losing the business they might have. obtained, but also on the money they spent to organize these parties.

The decision to impose the nighttime curfew has sparked anger in the industry, as many argue that the decision to close only restaurants and bars, while allowing other establishments like cinemas to operate at full capacity. , is discriminatory. “We understand the need to curb the flow of people in order to control the spread of the virus, but shutting down our industry alone won’t really help. These steps should be taken in a better way, where you give us more time to function, ”said Mukesh Tolani. He argued that with a nighttime curfew in place, people are forced to congregate before restaurants close, leading to overcrowding. Instead, he suggested that if there are no restrictions on the hours, customers can enter at any time that suits them, making it easier to enforce appropriate COVID-19 behavior.

India has reported an increasing number of cases of the Omicron variant, with the number of cases reaching over 700 in less than a month. Omicron’s tally reached 38 in Karnataka, with the total of active COVID-19 cases at 2,334.

Jagadish, the COO of the popular Bob’s Bar in Bangalore, said: “If someone arrives at 9:30 pm, we have to fire them after only half an hour. Why do people come to our bar just to sit there for half an hour? Customers would think it was better to stay at home. He added that instead of putting in place restrictions for 10 days, the government could only have banned celebrations on December 31, allowing companies to realize the profits they usually earn during that time.

The nighttime curfew and the ban on New Year’s celebrations not only impact bars and pubs, but restaurants as well. “The nighttime curfew is not scientific. To control the spread of the Omicron, a nighttime curfew is not the answer. There is a 50% seating capacity for restaurants until January 2. While they have allowed 100% capacity for theaters, on buses and the metro, why is the hotel industry any different? Every hotel in Karnataka has a New Year’s party planned for this year. About 60 five-star hotels in Bangalore have also planned celebrations. But everything fell apart because of this last-minute decision on the nighttime curfew, ”said PC Rao, president of the Bruhat Bengaluru Hotel Association.

Read: How the second wave impacted an already fragile restaurant industry

However, the government did not consult with any restaurant or hotel associations before announcing the restrictions. “We have never been consulted in the past two years, for any of the regulations that have been proposed,” said Mukesh Tolani.

He added that after two years of restrictions and lockdowns, many restaurants and eateries have relied on take-out and delivery services to keep themselves afloat. “But that never compensates for the loss of business from an inbound customer. Because when you order, you order very specific items, and when you dine, sometimes you go too far, you splurge. You value more than what you specifically order, ”he said. “We understand that there is a requirement to slow things down but it has to be in a more structured and logical way,” he added.

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Cecil N. Messick