The hospitality industry in Uttar Pradesh is unable to regain its business in the unlock phase, mainly due to the fear of the pandemic and the restrictions imposed by the government.
While 60 to 70 per cent eateries opened up after the state government gave the nod last month, half of them are planning to shut down again following lack of customers.
The 55-hour weekend shutdown now has worked as a catalyst.
“The food industry deals with perishable items and cannot afford these frequent shutdowns. It is better to shut the business rather than keep suffering losses,” said Gokul, who runs a sweet shop in Gomti Nagar.
Rakesh Khanna, manager of a multi-cuisine restaurant in Lucknow, said: “The ban on sale of meat is still on and we cannot survive on a vegetarian menu. Moreover, the night curfew begins at 10 p.m. and that means we have to wind up operations by 9.15 p.m. so that the staff can return home before the deadline. This means that we cannot cater to customers who come past 8.30 p.m. for dinner.”
He said that the restaurant cannot survive on takeaways alone and the management was planning to shut down again for a month till the situation normalises.
G.N. Shah, who runs a fast food chain in Kanpur, said: “We are planning to shut down business for the next two months because of the restrictions. Fast food like chat and ‘pani puri’ and even ‘kulfi’ is savoured at the joint and not as a takeaway. The police trouble our customers and people are now staying away.”
A number of high-end coffee shops in Lucknow have not yet resumed business in shopping malls, mainly due to the poor customer footfall and the high rentals.
“We have been asked to allow only one-third customers and this will not be economically feasible. We serve mainly coffee and beverages which are not popular as takeaway items. We are therefore keeping the shop closed till normal business resumes,” said Reena who holds the franchise of a popular coffee chain.
The restaurants in five-star hotels are also running on limited basis.
“We have stopped the buffet service for the time being and only limited options are available on the menu because customers are not coming. We are maintaining all safety protocols but the atmosphere is not conducive yet. Besides, officials of the district administration keeping trooping in at frequent intervals to make a check and this scares the customers,” said a food manager of a local five-star hotel in the state capital.
Most hotel owners said that they feel that if the pandemic recedes within a month, the safety protocols would also be eased and people would start eating out.
“We may reopen in mid-August if all goes well,” said an eatery owner who shut his shop on Saturday.