The restaurant and bar business in the capital city has slightly gained momentum since the government imposed a ‘smart lockdown’ by maintaining the safety parameters and easing the production and supply of essential goods. Different business communities have made positive remarks on the smart lockdown.
Despite the slight growth of the business to some degree, the entrepreneurs, hoteliers and restauranteurs have expressed their disappointment about a few rules drawn up under the prohibitory order imposed in the country. As per the rules, the stores, shops, restaurants and bars among other eateries are allowed to operate till 8:00 pm following the health protocols and arranging for the sanitisers for the customers.
Mitra Pandey, manager at Himalayan Java Coffee, Tridevi Marg, Thamel said, "We have only a few customers coming to have tea, coffee and light lunch." "Although the business was zero during the strict lockdown imposed nationwide, it has now started gaining momentum after the smart lockdown," he said and added, "However, unfortunately, we have to close the business after 8:00 pm."
Pandey said, "The authorities should have allowed the restaurant and hotel business to open till 10:00. It's not that the coronavirus turns deadly after 8:00 pm."
Likewise, Gunaraj Shrestha, manager at Cafe Mitra Restaurant and Bar in Thamel, said they have witnessed the growth of 20 to 25 per cent in business since the government issued prohibitory order imposing smart lockdown. He said the customers visiting the restaurant of late are mostly the locals although previously, there used to be a lot of foreign tourists. Shrestha, who also manages Avocado restaurant in Baluwatar, said, the authorities at the policy-making level should take stock of problems the restauranteurs have been facing currently.
Shrestha said, "Since the prohibitory order issued by the District Administration Office allow us to open till 8:00 pm, it's very inappropriate for us to suddenly close down the restaurant and force the customers to leave exactly at the mentioned time."
"We have faced several circumstances when police personnel entered the restaurant and ordered to shut enforcing the prohibitory order," Shrestha said and added that such activities of the security personnel often strike terror among our customers. He argued that it would be much better if the authorities allowed the restaurants to open at least till 9:00 pm. He also expressed his views that letting restaurants open till 9:00 pm will not make any difference as we run the business maintaining health safety measures.
Similarly, the World Heritage Restaurant and Bar based in Maru Pyaphal, near Kathmandu Durbar Square has also witnessed a downturn as the hotel has not received any customers. "The restaurant in the hotel receives a few local customers who often find the price set at international tourist standard higher than expected," the owner of the hotel, Sagar Manandhar told NepalNews. "We have been managing to pay salary to the staff with the loan we have borrowed." Stating that now there were only a few foreigners in the country, he said the restaurants should now focus on domestic customers.
Meanwhile, Kali Prasad Parajuli, Chief District Officer (CDO) of Kathmandu, told NepalNews that the prohibitory order will be effective till September 1. "However, we have been consulting with the COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre (CCMC) to bring the proper solution to that as we have taken notice of dissatisfaction from various communities on the rules under the prohibitory order," CDO Parajuli said and added that some rules in the prohibitory order might be changed as per the recommendation from responsible bodies.