Hygiene, social distancing in focus as restaurants, shops gear up to reopen


Restaurant operators and retailers are now looking forward to resume business activities after the government on Saturday allowed them to re-open from June 8.

Several Quick Service (QSR) operators have redesigned and reorganised layouts of their dining facilities to adhere to social distancing norms along with additional hygiene features, while some have also introduced home delivery and take-away.

While most of the players welcomed government’s order to reopen and shopping malls in a phased manner from June 8, saying that it would help the economy to recover; others pointed out that more clarity on guidelines was required as respective state governments and the local administration would have a wider say in this.

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QSR chain operator KFC India said the new guidelines would help people resume their regular life. Assuring safety and well being of its customers, the company said that it had modified the restaurant designs to reinforce social distancing, and trained team members according to the new norms.

“We have planned for ways in which consumers can enjoy their favourite KFC food with friends and family when they come to the restaurants, while being assured of their safety,” KFC said.

“We have modified the restaurant designs to reinforce social distancing, trained team members according to new norms and are implementing measures like distanced seating arrangements, demarcated waiting spots in the queues, controlled customer inflow,” KFC India CMO Moksh Chopra said.

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Burman Hospitality, which is the Master Franchise Partner in India for Taco Bell’s, said it would re-open its with additional hygiene and safety measures, following social distancing norms both on restaurant floors as well as in the kitchens.

“Restaurant brands like ours have been working diligently on creating and testing new ways of operations designed for the post Covid-19 world. To reinforce this, we have been gaining knowledge from what other Taco Bell franchisees have been adopting globally and have already started introducing a number of features that will make us the safest restaurants in India,” Burman Hospitality VP – Operations Mandeep Singh Sethi said.

“Some examples are re-organising restaurant layouts, creating an end-to-end contactless dining experience for consumers, as well as introducing new business models which have a greater focus on delivery and take-away,” he added.

McDonald’s India (North and East) also said it has implemented safety measures at its restaurant.

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“We are studying best practices which are followed globally as well as understanding the local guidelines, basis which we are preparing to ensure a safe and hygienic environment for our customers as well as for our employees,” said McDonald’s India (North and East) in a statement.

Expressing similar sentiments, a spokesperson of Burger King India said: “We welcome the government’s announcement about opening up of restaurants. We are delighted to offer safe, hygienic and tasty food to consumers in these tough times”.

National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) though has welcomed the government relaxation guidelines, but said it failed to understand the logic of keeping out bars from the purview of permitted activities and the same must be permitted as well.

“We now await to engage with various state governments to put together stringent safeguards to ensure safe environment for our consumers and employees. As a responsible industry body, we had voluntarily closed down our business in larger health risks to our guests and employees and we will like all safeguards to be in place before we open our restaurants again,” NRAI President Anurag Katriar.

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It must also not be forgotten that the current permitted hours of business is also very limited and needs to be extended further in due course, he added.

Shopping Centres Association of India (SCAI) ) has said that the move would help ease pressure from the industry and start the process of revival.

“The relaxation is certainly going to help ease an unimaginable amount of pressure that was put on the industry following the lockdown. Revival and resurgence is a long process, which has just about begun. We will await further information from MOHFW to ensure the guidelines are followed in letter and spirit,” said SCAI Chairman Amitabh Taneja.

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Retailers Association of India (RAI) said opening of malls and all categories of retail “is important to save millions of jobs and revive the economy”.

“Retailers and malls have to ensure standard operating procedures so that citizens are safe and the people working in these places are also safe. We have been in touch with various government officials since lockdown and we believe that the government is satisfied that the malls would follow the SOPs as is required,” RAI CEO Kumar Rajagopalan said.

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