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Delhi curbs: Restaurants and bars shut till April 30, cinemas to operate at 30% capacity

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Confusion prevailed among restaurateurs over the new dine-in curbs imposed in Delhi and the announcement of a weekend curfew. Industry insiders said more clarity was needed on the orders and the timings for home deliveries. The state government’s diktat also came as a shocker for cinema operators. While they feel that the show must go on, a few ET spoke with, said that in a way, the government is ensuring that cinemas remain shut.

Through new orders on Thursday, the Delhi government said in order to contain the fast spread of Covid-19 cases, additional prohibition on certain activities and weekend curfew needs to be imposed in the territory of NCT of Delhi except for essential activities and services. As per the order, bars and restaurants shall not be allowed to operate in the state till April 30 or further orders and only home deliveries and takeaways will be allowed.

Cinema halls/multiplexes will be permitted to open with 30% capacity.

“We are told as per the orders, the restaurants will be shut on all days till April 30. The industry will be back to square one and where we were in March and April last year,” said Anurag Katriar, president, National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI).

Priyank Sukhija, CEO of First Fiddle, that runs brands such as Lord of the Drinks, Tamasha and Warehouse Café said the business was anyway impacted because of the night curbs and dine in had been next to nil over the past 3-4 days with the rise in cases. “It will be wrong if we condemn the government on this. Looking at the current situation, the government has no other option but to do this. But, they should ensure people get vaccinated soon and take other preventive measures,” he said.

Zorawar Kalra, managing director of Massive Restaurants which runs brands such as Farzi Cafe, Made in Punjab said with eating out banned in Delhi, many restaurants might have to take drastic steps including shutting down as takeaway and delivery cannot yield in a sustainable business environment.

Top multiplex chains felt that during such times, it is important to work in tandem with the government.

“As a responsible corporate entity, we support the government in its endeavour to curb the cases. We, at INOX have been very strict in following all the SoPs and guidelines and we will continue to follow them, as we believe that the show has to go on,” said Alok Tandon, CEO at India’s second largest multiplex chain INOX Leisure.

But a top executive of a large cinema chain said it will not make sense to run a cinema hall in Delhi with the new restrictions.

“While we could have recovered the cost of running a show with 30% occupancy, right now occupancy levels are already in single digits. Moreover, there are no Hindi films after cinemas got shut in Maharashtra,” he said.

ET first wrote last week that Maharashtra government’s decision to shut down malls and multiplexes till April 30 will result in Bollywood producers postponing releases. And while a few South Indian films are doing good business in their local markets, they don’t draw crowds in Delhi.

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