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With the state government’s announcement of reopening of hotels and restaurants from Monday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) plans to encourage customers to pre-book their seats and direct restaurants not to accept customers without pre-booking.

This will be part of the standard operating procedure (SOP) for restaurant owners and customers to ensure Covid-appropriate behaviour. The SOP is being drafted and is expected to be finalised by Monday.

The SOP will be divided into two parts – for customers and restaurant owners – and will include sanitising, wearing masks, social distancing and getting restaurant staff to wear gloves and masks throughout.

The notification issued by the state government on Wednesday allowed hotels, bars, restaurants, food courts, shut for more than six months, to operate at 50% of their capacity. Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner (health), said, “We have planned to ensure an arrangement of pre-booking of seats at restaurants to avoid unnecessary crowding. The restaurant owners will have to take precautions to ensure this transition, of opening up their spaces for customers, takes place smoothly. Their seating arrangement should be made in a way that social distancing is maintained.”

Restaurant owners will have to ensure regular sanitising of the eating space and maintain hygiene in the kitchen. Also, periodic testing of its staff will be mandatory, as per the upcoming SOP of the BMC.

Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, spokesperson of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India, said, “I think people are more cautious to wait outside the restaurants in this pandemic and so pre-booking will work. I don’t agree that there will be overcrowding the moment we open restaurants as consumers’ confidence is low. We are on a wait-and-watch mode and will see how it unfolds.”

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