BENGALURU: After 76 days, restaurants, malls and religious places opened on Monday with small wary steps and precautions in place. But unlike liquor stores -- which drew hordes when they opened on May 4 -- these establishments drew just a fraction as the fear of Covid-19 dampened the excitement of facilities opening. There was a mixed response from diners to restaurants in the city. While many were scared of infection and hygiene, in case of pubs and bars, the timings were an issue as they have been directed to close by 9 pm.
Veerendra Kamat, Secretary, Bruhat Bengaluru Hoteliers’ Association, said there were more takeaways than dine-ins. “It will take at least 10-15 days for things to settle. On any normal day, the ratio of takeaway to dine-ins was 25:75, but now it is just 50:50,” he said.“The first day, considering it was a Monday, the numbers were better than anticipated and visitors followed social distancing,” said Touseef Ahmed Khan, GM, Forum Mall, Koramangala.
Temples, mosques see fewer devotees
Meanwhile, few malls have decided to defer reopening for a few days, saying they would wait and watch.
With regard to religious places, while some saw crowds, at temples like Bull Temple, many decided to pay their respects from the threshold without entering the sanctum sanctorum. ISKCON temple remained closed. “We are thinking of opening on June 18 or June 22. We have decided that only 100 people per hour will be allowed. Prasad will not be given at the temple, and devotees can only take it away,” said a temple spokesperson.
Mosques too opened with restrictions, and authorities insisted on devotees bringing their own prayer mats. Inayath Ulla Khan, a worshipper at Bilal Masjid in Jayanagar, said, “The mosque had marks for social distancing and very few people were present. It opened only for 20 minutes. As soon as the Fajr prayers were over, we were asked to leave and perform the Nafil and Sunnah prayers at home.”
The Archbishop of Bengaluru, Peter Machado, urged churches to stick to 30 per cent strength inside the premises and suggested that churches conduct more masses, which will commence from June 13. “LCD projectors can be installed inside, in the open area or in halls available near the church to help devotees maintain social distancing,” he said. However, online masses will continue for senior citizens, pregnant women, those who are ill and those from containment zones.
“This week, all the pastors and I will work out the practicalities and sanitisation of churches. This is before services resume from June 13,” said Prasanna Samuel, archbishop, CSI, Karnataka Diocese.Mohammed Idrees Choudhary, president, Russell Market Shopkeepers’ Association, said they will open on Thursday as they are cleaning and sanitising the area. But City Market opened as cleaning was done two days ago. Diwakar, president, City Market Association, said only 10% of people came as they probably were not aware. “Also, only 60 per cent shops were open,” he added.
The crowd was thin at Bannerghatta Biological Park, too. The zoo had 68 visitors and 35 people booked for the package tour. Vanashri Vipin Singh, Executive Director, BBP, said, “There were only 103 visitors. While online booking is compulsory, many came to the counters. We did not discourage them as it was the first day. We gave all of them complimentary battery-operated vehicles to use.”