Mumbai: Wining & dining out to be in again; Restaurants, bars & permit rooms set to reopen from October
All those missing wining and dining outside have good reason to quit whining. After almost six months of closure, restaurants, bars and permit rooms in Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra are set to re-open from the first week of October, initially at 50 per cent capacity, with stringent health and hygiene norms, to avoid the spread of Covid-19.
So, what's on the plate?
Limited menus will be the norm and these may be tweaked to include more options of cooked food, rather than raw food. That means tipplers may have to do without the customary chakna (raw food) on the side.
The state government and various restaurant associations will soon finalise the standard operating procedure (SOP) and only thereafter will a formal approval will be issued. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, during a virtual interaction with the associations from Mumbai, Pune,Nagpur and Aurangabad, made out a strong case for adherence to SOPs, cleanliness, safety and physical distance after reopening.
Additional Chief Secretary (home department) Sitaram Kunte said that the SOP would be finalised after another meeting with restaurant professionals.
As per the SOP circulated by the state government, only asymptomatic customers will be allowed and those whose body temperatures are more than 100.4° F and/or have flu-like symptoms shall not be permitted. The service provider will have to record contact details and be empathetic towards such visitors, while advising them.
Raw or cold food like salads are off the menu, only cooked food will be served. Food must continue to be prepared in the hotel kitchen, wherever the hotel has a kitchen. In case there is kitchen the property, the hotel operator/owner should continue to get meal supplies from existing vendors. Ready-to-eat food items will have to be kept covered at all times.
Guests will be encouraged to make prior reservations to avoid crowding.
Social distancing should be followed while awaiting/ offering service. Consent for sharing guest details with administrative/health authorities should be obtained as and where required, to facilitate contact tracing. Customers can enter premises only if wearing face covers/ masks and will have to remain masked while on the premises.
AHAR - the Indian Hotel & Restaurant Association President (Mumbai) Shivanand Shetty told The Free Press Journal, ''The government and the association will soon finalise the SOP and thereby the restaurants, bars and permit rooms can restart from the first week of October. There are about 22,000 organised and unorganised restaurants in Mumbai alone. In addition there are 2,500 bars and permit rooms in the city. They have collectively incurred a loss of Rs 18,000 crore because of the closure since March.'' He said the association has sought waiver of the payment of annual excise fee of Rs 8 lakh and various municipal fees ranging between Rs 10,000 and 30,000 by individual restaurant owners. Shetty said the CM has assured he will look into these demands.
As far as the SOP for bars and permit rooms is concerned, bar counters and stools should be sanitised properly and equipment like shakers, blenders, mixers and per measures should be cleaned. The ice-container trolleys will have to be washed and sanitised while all the bottles of spirits, wines and beers must be sanitised with a high-grade disinfectant.
If any staffer is identified as Covid-19-positive, the entire premises will have to be deep-cleaned and fumigated.