Social distancing

Coping with hard times

It's the hospitality industry that's the most affected in the wake of Covid-19. Under such trying circumstances, what measures are the hoteliers and restaurateurs taking to protect themselves and their staff? We find out...

Coping with hard times

Manpriya Singh

Desperate times, desperate measures. Impending layoffs and mounting losses are just one way to put the state of hotel industry right now. Unfortunately, that's the most optimistic and the mildest way of putting things into perspective. "What can we say? There is nothing to say because we are taking each day as it comes and are only catering to the tourists, travellers, people stuck at the hotel right now," a top official of a five- star hotel chain in the city passes down the information while refusing to be named.

"Nobody else is coming, nor are we expecting any guests anytime soon." Despite the city's food industry comprising a scattered portfolio of take-away joints, cloud kitchens, of course apart from the good old hotels and standalone restaurants; Corona has been both 'dramatic and democratic' in bringing down one and all. The rockstars, industries, bureaucrats and even diplomats, the countries, communities! "We have had to take harsh decisions in the past few days," says Rajkanwar Singh Bhangoo, chef restaurateur, AJA Fresh-Sector 11, Chandigarh. He adds, "We are cutting short on the staff and giving them 'holidays' until further notice. We are also taking measures like shorter timings of operations, better staff planning; might shut down also for a few days as too."

Tough times

With the Prime Ministers of the countries requesting people to not visit bars and restaurants, it's the hospitality industry that's the most shaken and stirred in the wake of Covid-19. There's no undermining the impending losses, partly because the magnitude of the whole situation is yet to sink in. At Hotel Shivalikview, at least the decade-old Cloud 9 and Bazm have already closed down operations for the time being. "But profits, losses, layoffs and perishable inventories are something we are not even bothered about right now. The first priority is precaution and prevention; these two supersede every other thought at the moment," opines B.S.Virk, DGM, CITCO. He adds, "We always forecast in advance of the requirement and inventories and order every day, alternate days depending on the occupancy and other factors."

Sales, layoffs and targets are altogether different conversations, the ones staring at our face but still not to be undertaken at the moment. "It's the safety of the employees that is of paramount importance at the moment," adds Rajkanwar Bhangoo.

Widespread ramifications

Brooklyn Central, in the heart of courtyard at Elante has been shut since a couple of days and will remain so at least till March 31 or further notice, depending on the situation. "It could easily take six months from after the Corona scare has been completely wiped out from public memory for the industry and stand-alone players to bounce back," shares Anish Sharma, the manager. "The staff has been strictly asked to remain at home and as for the perishable goods, they have been distributed among the staff itself." This is the time to make the most of resources, especially with the industry in limbo, losses mounting and catastrophic circumstances. "But this is also the time to stay cooperative and positive," he adds.

Economic meltdown or a pandemic, hospitality industry is the first to be hit. "But it is also the first to bounce back. Leisure or business, eating out or travelling are the last thing on people's mind, and also the first thing when things look up. It's the same thing that happened during the great global recession of 2008," shares a manager of a stand-alone restaurant in Sector 7.

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