Home >News >India >Delhi orders restaurants to close; allows home deliveries

New Delhi on Thursday directed dine-in restaurants in the city to close down till March 31st in its latest attempt to fight off the deadly Coronavirus—a move that could impact the city's over 3 lakh people employed in the city's food services industry.

Restaurants can, however, continue with home deliveries and takeaways. The move makes Delhi among the few cities to impose strict restrictions on eateries.

In an order on Thursday, the Arvind Kejriwal-led government notified that dine-in arrangements in restaurants will shut down temporarily.

"In view of rising incidents of Corona cases, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday announced several important decisions taken in the wake of COVID-19 in Delhi. He directed that dine-in arrangements in all the restaurants shall remain closed in Delhi till March 31. However, restaurants can continue home-deliveries and takeaways," the government said in an order.

Delhi's organized food services market is estimated at Rs24,955 crore according to estimates from the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI). The Delhi-NCR region has over 95,000 restaurants that employ over 3 lakh people. Dine-in is roughly 59% of the food services market in the city, the NRAI said. Delhi joins other cities that have directed bars, and pubs to shut down, even as restaurants continue to operate. The move could further cripple the sector that is already grappling with high rentals, and increased competition.

However, members of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) welcomed the move calling it highly effective in containing the ongoing pandemic.

"This is actually the best move, it will be economically challenging for us in already troubled times, but if we have to combat this disease, this is the way to go," Anurag Katriar, president, NRAI said.

Fast food chain KFC said it will shut down its outlets in response to Delhi's recent directive; customers can choose to order its meals online.

"We are abiding by the directive of the Delhi government and closing restaurants as mandated. In addition, we have rapidly put in place operational protocols to keep our employees and consumers safe. With most people staying indoors or operating from home, we urge consumers to reach us through alternate channels, including take-away and ordering in – as per their convenience," a spokesperson for KFC India said. The local arm of the American fast food chain added that it is working on launching contactless delivery and "customers can now order and receive their food without coming in direct contact with the delivery person."

As India takes firm measures to curb the spread of the highly contagious disease, several sectors and consumer-related businesses have been left in a bind.

Restaurants, that rely on regular footfalls to keep business going will have an especially tough time and face job-losses and a drastic drop in business.

Earlier this week, the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) that represents the interests of over 5,00,000 restaurants in the country has advised its member restaurants to shut their eateries, bars, pubs, cafes starting tomorrow till March 31 as part of its efforts to contain the spread of the deadly Coronavirus and safeguard the health of customers and employees. The NRAI committee announced the decision on Tuesday after consulting various chapter members. The decision for restaurants to close, however, is purely voluntary, and not mandatory, NRAI said then. Katriar added that in Mumbai alone a few thousand restaurants have voluntarily closed down.

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