After a span of more than a month and a half, restaurants and bars in Goa have been allowed to open their doors to dine-in customers. Even though the state-level curfew has been extended to July 12, all restaurants and pubs have been allowed to be operational at 50 percent capacity, according to the new SOPs which come into effect from Monday.
According to new SOPs issued late on Sunday by the state administration, along with bars and restaurants, outdoor stadiums, sports complexes and saloons have also been permitted to open.
Last week, All Goa Bar and Restaurant Association had sent a request to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant seeking the reopening of bars and restaurants while informing him about the "psychological distress" faced by the owners.
When the bars and restaurants in Goa were asked to shut down in mid-May, food and beverage business establishments were not allowed to entertain guests and patrons, but were allowed to run their kitchens and facilitate home deliveries of food products. "Only delivery services is not a business model that restaurants want to adopt because it doesn't even pay for the overhead (expenses)." said Pralhad Sukhtankar, Vice President of Goa Hotel & Restaurant Association (GHRA). "Because we are operating out of restaurant premises, there is a high overhead expense. The salaries for staff, rental costs and electricity all remain the same. So, the cost of running the business remains the same but the revenue we get falls by almost 95%," Sukhtankar added.
The decision to allow bars and restaurants to open at 50 percent capacity also comes in the wake of a sharp dip in COVID-19 positivity rate that has dropped below five percent. At its peak, the positivity rate in the state had crossed 50 percent. CM Sawant had earlier said that around 60 percent of the state's population had received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. He expects the first dose of vaccine to reach every eligible citizen by the end of July.
(With inputs from IANS)