Visakhapatnam: Restaurateurs hope for better days

Visakhapatnam: Restaurateurs hope for better daysArmed with a pair of gloves, a cap and a mask, staff at one of the city hotels getting ready for parcel service

More care, less diners per table, increased sanitation measures and safety standards will be the ‘new norm’ the hospitality sector has to brace up if the lockdown relaxation gets applicable to them sooner.

Visakhapatnam: More care, less diners per table, increased sanitation measures and safety standards will be the 'new norm' the hospitality sector has to brace up if the lockdown relaxation gets applicable to them sooner.

Though many of the restaurants are now confined to catering to 'takeaways' following the partial relaxation, hoteliers hope that better days are likely ahead if the dining facility also resumes operation.

After a lull of two months, restaurateurs say that they are prepared to offer dining experience, adhering to the guidelines. "These are tough times. We have already suffered a huge loss when the first lockdown came into play. We had to dump all our existing stock and raw material as many of them were close to crossing the expiry date during the second and subsequent lockdowns. With thousands of workers dependent on hotel industry, it is better we recommence operation soon even if it costs 30 per cent extra for extensive use of sanitisers, masks, gloves and caps," elaborates Talluri Satyanarayana, president of the Andhra Pradesh Hotels Association.

The coronavirus pandemic has left a dent in the otherwise roaring restaurant business. "Earlier, weekends used to draw more footfalls as many have the habit of watching cinema and visiting a restaurant before heading home. Now, with less disposable income and lurking fear, we doubt whether we witness any great business in the near future like pre-pandemic times," tells Satyanarayana to The Hans India.

Though precautions like disinfectant measures, elaborate sanitisation process and online payments form a part of the safety protocols, restaurateurs express their concern over growing maintenance costs in the coming days. "We need to prepare ourselves for less margins, more expenses in order to run the show at least during the initial stages. Maintaining housekeeping and kitchen staff will not be like earlier for sure. Moreover, even the vegetables and meat needs to be sanitised before it heads to the kitchen counters. We ensure to soak vegetables in hot water with salt and dry them for a day before they are incorporated into cooking at the restaurant," explains D Manik Raj, managing director of Hotel Vivana.

Despite the challenges, many try to pull out all stops even if it is going to be two persons sharing a table. "Hospitality industry is one of the worst-affected sectors in times of the pandemic. We are waiting to resume operations as it provides livelihood to an army of workers. Apart from the use of thermal scanners, usage of masks, gloves and caps among the staff has been made mandatory. Attention is also paid on cleaning the floors and sanitising the utensils and cutleries on a daily basis," says B S Krishna (Alfa Krishna), a restaurateur, who owns Alfa hotel at NAD.

GVMC officials say that safety protocols will be made mandatory across all hotels and eateries and violation of the norms will not be tolerated as it involves high element of risk.

At present, standard operating protocols have been received for garment, footwear and jewellery stores apart from street vendors vending food in urban areas. "Dining facility is yet to commence. Based on the guidelines we receive, food inspectors, sanitary inspectors and district administration staff will monitor the hygiene conditions maintained by the restaurateurs and ensure their compliance with the safety standards. With intensified surveillance, violation of norms will not be spared at any cost," says KSLG Sastry, Chief Medical Officer of Health, GVMC.

When it comes to occupancy of rooms, hoteliers worry that the struggle would last for a while as many travellers are concerned about the present quarantine norms and putting their trips off.

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