Indian businesses reopened to gloomy start even as COVID-19 cases continue to surge
After more than two months of shut down, businesses across the states of India have begun gradual reopening in the past few days in view of the Modi government’s plan for phases unlocking of economic activities in the country. Across all businesses, the Health Minister has issued an elaborate set of SOPs (standard operating procedures) mandating regular sanitization-cleanliness protocols, physical distancing, and curtailing the capacity of people. At the same time, a number of companies have opened their doors for employees with reduced capacity.
While shopping malls and restaurants have been allowed to resume operations in Delhi, Maharashtra government has extended the shutdown in Mumbai till June 30 in view of rising COVID-19 cases. Even though the government has allowed the restaurants to reopen, owners have stated that capping the number of customers for dine-ins will severely affect the operations and revenues, suggesting that it is better for restaurants to remain closed. Shops and restaurants across other states also opened to dim business.
“With a 50% seating limit, about 80% of restaurants will not make money even when they open up later because managing rental costs, staff salaries, and electricity bills won’t be possible,” said entrepreneur Priyank Sukhija while speaking to news agency PTI, adding that he will keep his restaurants closed for the time.
The Indian restaurant industry has reportedly incurred over Rs 80,000 crore of revenue losses during the lockdown, with millions of employees suffering the repercussions.
Furthermore, business remained lean at the shopping complexes and malls during the opening in Delhi since only a handful of shoppers visited the places. Disinfection and sanitation protocols are being followed by shop owners in the malls even though crowd footfall remains low amid prevailing pandemic fear.
It is important to note here that experts have warned of fresh pandemic outbreaks in the aftermath of easing of lockdown and stay-at-home restrictions, even though the reopening businesses may have come as a sigh of relief for owners. Significantly, even after two months of lockdowns, the infected cases have increased manifold and the COVID-19 infection curve is showing no signs of flattening currently, Furthermore, coordination between the Centre and state government in the reopening of business activities has only intensified the crisis. As of now, Coronavirus infected cases continue to surge in India with number crossing 2.77 lakh. But in a ray of hope, the number of recovered patients overtook the active COVID-19 cases in the country on June 10 with over 1,35,000 people recovering from the disease.