CM Arvind Kejriwal. Photo: ANI The government of Delhi, in line with its stated objective, has furthered the scope of unlocking from next week.
All retail and trading establishments will now be allowed to operate at full capacity between 10 am and 8 pm from Monday. However, restaurants will be operating at 50 per cent capacity, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced.
According to its plan to gradually ramp up economic activities in Delhi, last week the government had allowed physical stores to operate on alternate days. Restaurants, however, were permitted to only deliver at doorsteps. Other establishments like multiplexes and theatres, spas, gyms, sports complexes, public parks, and educational institutions will continue to remain shut like earlier, Kejriwal said.
The move is expected to bring back normalcy in Delhi’s trading and retailing hubs, which were shut nearly two months ago following stringent lockdown
in the wake of the surging second wave of the pandemic in mid-April. The announcement brought some hope back among business operators in the city. From Khan Market in Lutyens’ Delhi to the old city trading hub in Chandni Chowk and sprawling shopping malls, most said it would accelerate recovery in business.
At the century-old trading hub in Chandni Chowk, during last week only a handful of buyers had turned up and sales remained less than 25 per cent of the normal. However, the opening of all business establishments may grow their business to 50 per cent, estimated Bharat Ahuja, president of the local traders’ associations.
The situation is similar at Khan Market. According to Sanjiv Mehra, president, Khan Market Traders Association, the shops could only rake in up to 30 per cent of their pre-Covid level of sales during the past week. He now hopes business will recover to over 40 per cent by next week. Allowing restaurants to operate is a breather for the upmarket locality. At south Delhi’s glitzy Select City Walk Mall, Chief Executive Officer Yogeshwar Sharma is busy persuading restaurant operators to resume operations from Monday.
In Mumbai too, businesses operators are facing challenges. High streets and marketplaces have been permitted to operate in the city only till 4 pm on weekdays. Non-essential retail, restaurants, salons, gyms and parlours, however, are shut on weekends.
Eateries have complained the current restrictions are slowing financial recovery. “The timing and capacity restrictions are challenging. However, things are opening up gradually and customer confidence seems to be there. We saw it during the one week of unlocking in Mumbai. Now, Delhi has permitted restaurants to operate with 50 per cent capacity. We welcome the move,” said Riyaaz Amlani, chief executive officer and managing director, Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality, which operates brands like Smoke House Deli and Social.
According to Rajneesh Mahajan, chief executive officer, Inorbit Malls, durables, athleisure and grooming categories are expected to show a spike, led by pent-up demand. Currently, mall owners in Mumbai are lobbying hard for a go-ahead as the authorities have so far decided to keep them shut.
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