Food businesses open but restaurants in for a long fight amid pandemic | Pakistan Today

Food businesses open but restaurants in for a long fight amid pandemic

LAHORE: The Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department (P&SHD) on Saturday issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) regarding the opening of restaurants and fast food businesses; however, restaurant owners are not too optimistic about business in light of strict Covid-19 protocols, Pakistan Today learnt.

The P&SHD Care Secretary Capt (r) Muhammad Usman issued SOPs for opening the restaurants while up to 50 per cent people will be allowed to eat in the dining hall instead of 100 per cent.

According to the SOPs, there will be no parties in the dining halls of fast food and restaurants while those above 60 years of age will be barred from entering the restaurants.

Similarly, there should be a distance of 6 feet between the dining tables while the play areas will remain closed. Masks, hand-sanitizers and temperature checks will be mandatory.

According to SOPs, special care should be taken for social distancing in the restaurant and the restaurant management and workers will be required to wear gloves and masks while customers will not be allowed to enter the restaurant without masks.

The customers will not be allowed to enter buffet areas, while waiters will distribute food to the customer from the buffet areas and temperature scanners will be mandatory when customers arrive at the restaurant.

Abrar Hussain, owner of Coocoo’s Den, said that the government has decided to open restaurants but the damage caused during the lockdown could not be repaired.

“The SOPs issued by the health department will undoubtedly reduce our sales and where our restaurant used to employ 50 people, now only five to ten people will work. Despite the government’s announcement, people will not turn to restaurants, but it will take time for people to return to normal.”

Asad Sheikh, founder Foodies R Us believes that restaurant owners are not ready to open their restaurants despite permission.

“The government is, of course, acting cautiously, but some of the things in the SOPs are beyond comprehension. With the dining capacity of restaurants reduced by 50pc, sales will be severely affected. SOPs are more stringent for restaurant owners and they will prefer takeaways instead of dine in. This is a very difficult time for the restaurant sector and we hope that good time will come soon.”