Delhi logs 23 COVID deaths, 21,259 cases; restaurant owners seek review of decision to suspend dine-in

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Owners said it is an ‘injustice’ that restaurants and bars in the city are being closed when roadside eateries are open and Metro trains and buses are running at full capacity

Delhi logs 21,259 fresh COVID cases, 23 deaths; restaurant owners seek review of dine-in decision

Representational image. AP

On Tuesday, the National Capital logged 23 COVID-19 fatalities and 21,259 cases while city’s positivity rate rose to 25.65 percent, according to data shared by the health department.

Meanwhile, owners of restaurants and bars in Delhi, expressed dismay at the DDMA’s Monday decision to suspend dine-in facilities. Owners of restaurants said that many businesses may have to shut shop as takeaway services alone cannot cover expenses such as rent and staff salaries.

They said it is an “injustice” that restaurants and bars in the city are being closed when roadside eateries are open and Metro trains and buses are running at full capacity.

Urging the Delhi Disaster Management Authority to review its decision, Manpreet Singh, treasurer of the National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI), said restaurants and bars have not yet fully recovered from the setbacks of the previous lockdowns and these fresh restrictions will only worsen things.

“Nearly 30 percent of restaurants and bars were shut for good during the previous lockdowns and these restrictions will further push the business down. It will lead to the closure of more such establishments. Let alone covering losses, takeaway services at restaurants cannot even cover the daily expenses,” Singh said.

No restaurant or bar owner can afford to pay lakhs of rupees in rent, taxes and salaries of employees unless his or her business is running at full capacity, he said.

“It (latest restrictions) will make a big dent in the business of restaurants and bars. The authorities should reconsider this decision. Political parties are holding poll campaigns, highway dhabas are open, roadside eateries are also functioning but only restaurants and bars where all COVID protocols are followed are facing the axe,” he lamented.

Singh also alleged that the Delhi government is not issuing passes to employees of restaurants engaged in home delivery services. The DDMA on Monday ordered the closure of restaurants and bars in the city, allowing only delivery and takeaway services.

The restrictions came in the wake of the steep rise in cases of COVID-19 and its Omicron variant across the city. Till Monday, restaurants were allowed to operate the dine-in facility at 50 percent of their seating capacity from 8 am to 10 pm. Bars in the city were also permitted to open with 50 percent seating capacity from 12 noon to 10 pm.

Raman Bajaj, who runs a restaurant and bar in south Delhi, appealed to the DDMA to reconsider the decision and said it will “ruin” the industry and result in unemployment. Most of the restaurants and bars in Delhi follow Covid guidelines as they take care of social distancing norms, check guests’ temperature and sanitise utensils, but still, they are being shut, he said.

“Many restaurants don’t have the takeaway facility. Such establishments will be closed. Those providing home delivery facilities will have to cut their staff to manage expenses. Such decisions will leave many people unemployed and ruin the business,” he added.

President of New Delhi Traders Association Atul Bhargava said the authorities did not consult traders before taking such a decision. “We have taken a bad hit. All our savings have gone into running the show. We have been paying taxes, rents, salaries of our employees on time but still, our establishments are being shut,” he said.
Bhargava claimed the government and authorities have failed to control crowds, and restaurants and other businesses have to bear the brunt.

“We want to survive and also support the government but there has to be a practical solution. On the one hand, you are saying hospital bed occupancy is low and on the other, you are shutting restaurants. This is injustice,” he said.

In Delhi, according to official figures, till today a total of 2,209 COVID patients are in hospitals. Of them, 84 are on ventilator support. The city currently has 74,881 active cases of which 50,796 are in home isolation.

To curb the spread of the viral disease, many restrictions have been imposed in the city.

Employees at private firms in New Delhi will have to mandatory switch to ‘Work From Home’, an order issued by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) had announced earlier on Tuesday Earlier, private offices could function with half their employees in office and the rest at home.

In the revised guidelines issued by the DDMA, only those private offices will be allowed to stay open which fall under the essential services/exempted category.

According to the order, these are the companies which are exempted:
• Private banks
• Offices of companies providing essential services
• Insurance/Mediclaim companies
• Pharmaceutical company offices needed for management of production/distribution
• RBI regulated entities
• All non-banking financial corporations
• All micro-finance institutions
• Offices of advocates if operations of courts, tribunals are on
• Courier services

Apart from these curbs, Delhi government has also introduced a list of restrictions including odd-even arrangements for markets, night curfew and weekend curfew.

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