No COVID-19 curbs after 2 years: Businesses optimistic, residents relieved as India ‘finally returning to normal’

With the Central government lifting all curbs related to COVID-19, the light is finally appearing at the end of the tunnel for businesses in the national capital that suffered unprecedented losses in the past two years due to the pandemic. Business owners and trade associations are expecting March to be a strong recovery period as restaurants, bars, cinemas and other establishments resume regular operations.

The several waves of the pandemic took a heavy toll on economic activities in the capital as well. Malls, restaurants, cinemas and other businesses were forced to shut down completely for several months. When the COVID-19 cases subsided, the businesses were allowed to open with several restrictions, including 50 percent capacity.

Striking an optimistic note, National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) President Kabir Suri said they are expecting that 80 to 85 percent of pre-COVID business will be restored in March.

There are about 5,67,000 eateries in India which include both organised and unorganised players.

“We are very happy. It has been over two years since we have been dealing with 50 percent capacity. Now, we can operate normally. It is a very positive step by the government. We are thankful for it,” Suri said.

He said the last two years have been “disastrous” for restaurants and eateries,but now they are looking forward to a positive response from customers.

Business owners in the national capital were demanding the lifting of curbs on activities for quite some time.

The announcement means that night curfew is lifted, markets can stay open till 10 PM, and restaurants, bars, cafes, and cinema halls can function at 100 percent seating capacity.

“I think we should see March as a strong recovery period. A minimum of 80 to 85 percent of pre-COVID business should be achieved in this period,” Rahul Bhatia added.

Atul Bhargava, who heads the New Delhi Traders Association, said they are expecting a recovery of businesses in the next one or two months if there are no further hiccups as people are keen to venture out.

“It will take another one or two months if all is well. In one or two months, we will hopefully to achieve a pre-COVID sale as people gain the confidence that it is safe to move around. They have been waiting to come out,” he added.

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