Patrons at all eateries will be requested to make digital payments and waiters have to refrain from frequenting customers' tables, as part of COVID-19 precautionary measures when food outlets reopen from June 8, a senior member of a restaurants' association said.
The Centre, in a notification on Saturday, had said restaurants and other hospitality services will be allowed to resume operations from June 8 in non-containment zones. "Most of the 51,000 big and small eating joints in the state are expected to lift shutters soon. We are happy that the MHA has allowed restaurants to run businesses for a limited period of time every day with necessary precautions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19," Sudesh Poddar, the secretary of Hotel and Restaurants' Association of Eastern India (HRAEI), told PTI.
A board with safety guidelines written on it will be put on display at a prominent spot in the restaurants, Poddar said. "The patrons will be given point-of-sale machines to swipe card and complete the transaction process by themselves. All customers will be requested to avoid calling waiters to their tables frequently. "There will be a minimum of 5-feet gap between tables, and patrons will be given single-use masks if they are found not wearing one," he said. Nitin Kothari, owner of iconic restaurants Mocambo and Peter Cat, said he would open the two eateries as soon as the government issues necessary regulations.
"We would like to know if the number of seats have to be reduced to 70 per cent, or less than that. Accordingly, arrangements will be made. As of now, we are using thermal guns to check the temperature of our employees, and have made masks and gloves mandatory for those delivering food to homes," he said.
Aware that fine dining experiences will not be the same again, at least anytime soon, both Poddar and Kothari said people would probably prefer takeaways and online ordering to eating out, in the days to come. "Most restaurants will start a takeaway section, if they dont have one already," the association secretary said. He, however, wondered why bars were left out of the notification issued by the Centre.
"Around 60 to 65 per cent revenue in a restaurant- cum-bar is earned from liquor sale. Reopening outlets may not be a profitable proposition for some restaurateurs," Poddar added.