So Glad to Have the “Old” Normal Back. Mumbai Can Start Dining-In from October


So Glad to Have the “Old” Normal Back. Mumbai Can Start Dining-In from October

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

October marks the start of the long Indian festive season. But this year, October is also significantly when the fifth phase of rolling back measures of India’s total lockdown will commence. Unlock 5.0, as it is being called, will see the reopening of new sectors after the entire nation shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic in March. The Union Home Ministry is expected to announce the new guidelines for Unlock 5.0 before October 1. The hospitality and entertainment sectors are going to be watching the new announcements keenly, as both have not been able to open for business since the lockdown was first announced in March.

The number of new Covid cases in India continues to rise, which could mean opening spaces where people gather, like restaurants, bars, and movie theatres comes with risks of a resurgence in positive cases. But it is also a move that will help businesses that have been struggling to make ends meet since the lockdown took away their footfalls. The Multiplex Association of India has been making requests to the government to allow them to reopen theatres across the country with safety guidelines in place. And in Maharashtra, it’s likely that bars and restaurants will open back up to customers in October after representatives of hotelier associations had a meeting with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

Guidelines for how to best operate such establishments in a post-Covid time are being formulated, and 400,000 businesses will be able to resume dine-in service. In Mumbai itself, there are approximately 100,000 restaurants, bars, and eateries that will start welcoming guests once again. Many of these businesses have only been able to cater to take-out orders over the past few months. And for customers, who’ve missed the experience of dining at a restaurant instead of home delivery, this will be a welcome step.

Given the precarious position India is currently in with regards to fighting Covid, perhaps it will still be a while before restaurants and movie theatres are a regular pastime for the masses. But steps are like these are welcome reminders that there is the light of normalcy at the end of this long tunnel.