Battered by the Lockdown and struggling to get by on deliveries, restaurants in the State will be opening their doors to dine-in services after more than six months
As part of the relaxed norms under Unlock 5.0, the government has allowed restaurants, bars and food courts to open from October 5. However, there is a caveat. They will have to operate at 50 percent capacity, according to the ‘Mission Begin Again’ guidelines issued by the State government on September 30.
In Maharashtra, there are 4 lakh restaurants, bars, and eateries. Most have been surviving only on deliveries since June 8, when they were allowed to reopen. Now, after more than six months, dine-in services are being allowed.
Physical distancing, reservations, disposable menus
Although, the Maharashtra Government is yet to issue an official SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for restaurants and bars, Moneycontrol has accessed a list of protocols to be followed by them.
Among other things, restaurants have been asked to maintain a one-metre distance between tables, said sources. Associations of smaller, Udupi restaurants, have sought a relaxation on the one-metre distance with plexiglass screens to be placed between tables instead.
The protocol encourages guests to make reservations before going to a restaurant, to avoid crowding.
Most restaurants will have disposable menus, a UV-C machine to sanitise crockery, cutlery and glasses, sensor taps at handwashes, and QR codes to make payments.
Here’s a look at some of the SOPs to be followed by restaurants and bars:
Protocol on arrival
i. The gate/door of the dining facility has to be opened by an attendant.
ii. Hand sanitisers/ pedal-operated sanitisers should be placed at the entrance and other areas such as washrooms. Guests will be asked to sanitise their hands before proceeding to the seating area.
iii. Namaste to be used as a greeting gesture. Guests to be served by staff wearing protective gear at all times.
iv. Guests should be reminded to sanitise their hands before entering and leaving the dining facility.
v. Guests to be provided necessary protective gear such as gloves and face masks (in case they are not carrying their own) to ensure the safety of other guests and staff.
vi. Markings to be made on the floor to ensure physical distance, wherever required.
vii. Tables to families or a group to be allocated strategically to ensure non-contamination of other guests/areas.
Bar safety measures
i. Bar counters and stools to be sanitised. Bar equipment such as shakers, blenders, mixers and peg measurers to be cleaned.
ii. Ice container trolley to be washed and sanitised.
iii. All bottles of spirits, wines and beers to be sanitised with food-grade disinfectant.
iv. All glassware to be cleaned with hot water and lemon.
v. FSSAI guidelines to be followed by marking dates on recently opened beverages.
Some protocols for the kitchen/food-preparation area
i. Operational kitchens must be sanitised at regular intervals.
ii. Kitchens to plan physical distancing (they will have three zones: 1. Range Critical 2. Non-Range Critical 3. Pre-Preparation area).
iii. Worktables to be realigned in such a manner that staff do not face each other and also maintain physical distance.
iv. Staff to wear protective gear like face masks, chef caps/net caps and face shields. Approximately 100 ppm chlorine to be used while sanitising non-vegetarian items and 50 ppm chlorine while sanitising vegetarian items.
What restaurant owners are saying
This reopening comes as a relief for restaurateurs who were surviving on food deliveries to at least recover some of the losses they incurred during the lockdown.
Most restaurants have now begun preparing to welcome guests from October 5.
“Restaurants have started preparing to reopen from October 5. Some may take more time but between October 5-15 all restaurants will reopen,” National Restaurants Association of India President Anurag Katriar told Moneycontrol.
Speaking to Moneycontrol, Shivanand Shetty, President of restaurant body AHAR, said: “In the best interest and safety of our customers, we have instructed our members to follow the SOPs finalised by the Government. We feel that there is no other way than reopening and adjusting to the new normal. As a responsible industry body, AHAR will support the Government in every step to ensure compliance.”
Lite Bite Foods, which operates 30 restaurant brands, including Punjab Grill, TRES, The Artful Baker, Zambar and Asia Seven Express, is also gearing up to welcome guests at its restaurants in Maharashtra.
Deepak Bhatia, Vice-President, Operations, Lite Bite Foods, said: “In terms of SOPs, we are ready with all the necessary checks and precautions to serve our guests in a completely safe environment.”
Another restaurant owner, Piyush Rathi, who runs restaurants under the banner Vishal/ Gaurav/Prem Residency/Prem Thali in the Vidharbha region, hopes that the government will allow more seating as many had suffered huge losses during the lockdown.
The government has permitted restaurants to operate with only 50 percent capacity. It has also extended other parts of the lockdown till October 31.
First Published on Oct 1, 2020 02:08 pm