BENGALURU: The second wave of Covid-19 may wipe out 30 per cent of food and beverage business outlets in Bengaluru, fear many restaurant and pub owners. Many have opposed the “last order at 9pm” restriction, with the night curfew beginning Saturday.“Our businesses had just about started picking up in February, and we were doing 60 to 70 per cent of pre-Covid business, but since mid-March, footfall has reduced drastically. Now with night curfew, we don’t expect any business in the evenings,” said Amit Roy of Watson’s, a pub chain in the city.
“The first year of Covid was a big blow to the hospitality industry, with the lockdown and partial reopening. The second wave and night curfew are the last nails in the coffin. We don’t have any financial backing and banks are also hesitant to give loans because of the fear of non-payment and bad debts,” said another restaurant owner.
The Karnataka government has imposed night curfew from 10pm to 5am from April 10 to 20 in the city. “This means that we take the last order at 8.30 pm. We have to start winding up by 9.30pm to reach home before the 10pm deadline. People working from home step out to dine only after 9pm. Hope these night restrictions are not extended beyond April 20,” Roy added.
Manu Chandra, head of the Bengaluru chapter of National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI), said the second wave will spell trouble for many businesses, especially hospitality. “It’s difficult to say how many of us will be able to sustain the wipeout of two financial years in a row, with no respite on licence fee or financial support from the government. Some of us may have to shut shop. While we need to be conscientious about arresting the spread of the virus and saving human lives, there are livelihoods that need to be protected,” said Chandra.
He said that in the last year, many employees of the hospitality industry have lost their jobs and are looking for suitable placement. “The kind of resumes being circulated for employment in the industry is heartbreaking. People who were at the peak of their careers have lost jobs, and there are no vacancies for such senior professionals,” he added.
Narayan Manepally of Geist Brewing Factory said he will have to “wait and watch” the impact of the second wave. “Ours is an outdoor place. Last year, people were fed up of sitting at home. So when the lockdown lifted, they wanted to come to a hygienically maintained outdoor place to unwind, relax and enjoy a good meal. Post the lockdown, we did 120 per cent of our pre-Covid business because of the same reasons,” he added.