The Maharashtra state task force has recommended that restaurants in Pune showing test positivity rates of less than 5% for 2 weeks can be allowed to run till 10 pm, as long as staff and, preferably customers too, are fully vaccinated.
At present, restaurants are allowed to operate for dine-in till 4 PM and post that they can do the delivery and parcel orders. Also, during the weekends, only home deliveries are permitted.
But the task force and the state’s technical advisor on Covid, Dr Subhash Salunke, have recommended that the hospitality industry, which has been under stress due to curbs, should be allowed to open with the right precautions in place, including having fully vaccinated staff and customers.
“However, the most important protocol is that even those who are fully vaccinated should follow all the Covid-appropriate behaviours, including masking,” added Salunke.
Reacting to the same, the restaurant owners across the city is happy to know that the above recommendation works in their favour and believe that this would bring some revenue to the already sinking business.
“We have asked our members to get their staff vaccinated; almost all of the restaurants have got their staff vaccinated. We are going through all the SOPs that the government has given us because we don’t want to risk our staff as well,’ shared Ganesh Shetty, President, PRAHA by adding that they have been suggested next week opening if the CM approves the same.
Shetty also added that unless the order is passed the industry can’t say anything on it. “It is not viable for us to do business till 4 PM and rely only parcel and delivery,” he added by pointing that 20 per cent of the restaurants were permanently closed in Pune in last one year.
Sharing his view on the same, Praful Chandawarkar said, “Restaurants with majority crew vaccinated and diners coming in with vaccination certificates should be allowed to operate all seven days till 11.30 pm.”
At Malaka Spice, Chandawarkar’s restaurants most of the employees are done with their first dose.
The taskforce also mentioned that if a restaurant does not have proper air circulation, it should not be allowed to function. “We recommended open-air dining or keeping doors and windows open even if the air-conditioning was on,” added Dr Salunke.
The panel is also of the opinion that there should be a system where restaurants allow only those customers with proof of full vaccination (two doses).
“Honestly, it is a very nice decision as we were looking at timings to get extended and now it looks in our favour. I am partially happy that the government is coming with such an order. I request two important exemption- partially vaccinated people should be allowed and also slots booking for hospitality people so that we get our employee vaccinated ASAP,” commented Vicky Bachani of Shiv Sagar and Farmaish Pune that has recovered only 50% sale of the pre-covid sales.
“Considering that our complete staff is vaccinated about two months ago. We will be happy to operate till 10 PM because we have been supporting our staff for too long but without monetary profit we are also falling short of it,” added Eshita Deoskar, Kynd Cafe and Bar who started the café in January 2020 just before the pandemic hit the nation. For Eshita, three months were very good business wise when she began her journey last year in January but today she is again back to zero with hardly any business to make money.