Centre orders reopening of restaurants, malls, hotels, and places of worship, with a new set of guidelines. Here are all the details. By Tanvi Jain

 

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As many as 75 days later, India is all set to reopen its restaurants, mallsand places of worship, in the fifth phase of the ongoing lockdown, or the first phase of UnlockHowever, the owners and the concerned authorities will have to make sure that the said properties are reopened with adequate safety and social distancing normsFor example, limited occupancy in restaurants, hand sanitisers at the entrance, no touching of idols, holy books, etc. in temples, no offering of edibles or sprinkling of water. 

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a press conference that while the national capital will reopen restaurants, malls and religious places as per centre’s new guidelines, they will have to follow social distancing norms, and take all the required measures, including mandatory wearing of masks. 

He, however, refused to reopen hotels and banquet halls, further mentioning the possibility of them being converted into hospitals in the near future considering the increasing cases of COVID-19.  

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has also released separate Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for reopening of restaurants, malls, hotels and places of worship.

 

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Some key highlights of the do’s and dont’s include:

  1. Restaurants and malls to operate with half the staff, and seating arrangements to be done while maintaining a distance of at least six feet.
  2. Hotels to also collect the medical history of guests apart from their ID cards and travel history.
  3. Entry and exit point to be separated at all the properties.
  4. Only asymptomatic visitors to be allowed entry that too only if they are wearing a mask.
  5. Disinfecting of luggage before being carried to the rooms, use of phones, intercoms, etc. to communicate with the guests, use of disposable menus and paper napkins, etc., thermal screening of food delivery staff.
  6. Prohibition on gaming section, kids play area, to remain as it is.
  7. At religious places, devotees are no more allowed to offer prasad or sprinkle water.
  8. Touching of idols and holy books is also banned.
  9. No more live singing and only recorded devotional songs are allowed to be played. Large gatherings are also prohibited.
  10. Moreover, devotees should also take off their footwear inside their own vehicle only and bring their own mats.
  11. All the religious places should also put up posters on COVID-19 related preventive measures.
  12. Furthermore, community kitchens, bhandars, langars, etc. should also make sure to strictly follow social distancing norms.

 

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Meanwhile, restaurant owners, seemed a little suspicious about the decision, as according to them, with restrictions still in place on serving liquor, it’s hard to get back into business as maximum revenue is earned from liquor only, also the restaurant needs time to prepare for the reopening as per the new guidelines. Moreover, they also believe that while they are running their kitchens with a limited staff to provide for home delivery and takeaways as earlier permitted by the government, reopening of dine-in services will only add to their cost, without helping them earn any profit. 

Another issue raised by restaurateurs is that as the new order allows restaurants to be open only till 09:00 pm, this would mean they will have to take the last order at around 07:00 pm, which again doesn’t make sense because nobody goes for dinner at six in the evening. In fact, keeping in mind the 09:00 pm curfew, even the restaurant staff will also need to be at home by then, which means they’ll have to close down and leave at least an hour before. 

 

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Reports further suggest that Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Odisha, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Manipur, Meghalaya, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Gurugram and Faridabad, malls will remain closed till June 30. While metros like Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad will witness resumption of several economic activities, others like Chennai, Mumbai and Gurugram will continue to follow restrictions. 

 Related: Dining Out Post COVID-19: Stuffed Pandas & Mannequins For Company At Restaurants?