As the Delhi Government allows bars and restaurants to open, are we taking the Coronavirus threat too lightly?
Several things about life have changed during the Coronavirus pandemic. One of the more obvious ones has been the near-complete absence of nightlife and entertainment. In several countries, bars, nightclubs and restaurants turned out to be major vectors of the disease, most particularly in South Korea. Yet, wherever bars and restaurants have re-opened across the world, many people have flocked to them after weeks of being locked up with nary a concern for social distancing or hygiene, leading public health officials to tear out whatever few strands of hair they had left. The enclosed spaces, loud conversations and people taking off their masks have made them hotspots in themselves. But then again, millions of people whose livelihoods depended on nightlife — from chefs and waiters to even the parking attendants of popular hotspots — have seen their lives collapse. They could not join those fortunate souls who could work from home. Some of them have seen their workplaces, some of them open for decades, shuttered permanently. Even those restaurants and bars fortunate to remain open and which have pivoted to the home delivery model have dramatically reduced their staff levels. With no service charge, income levels for staff have dropped significantly. Opening bars and restaurants will give such staff members hope for the future even if patronage takes some months, maybe even a few years to build back to pre-Covid levels.
The world has changed and the way we spend our lives has changed. Large parties and impromptu drinks after work are a thing of the past. Small gatherings at home are, at least for the time being, the only way most people will entertain. Sure, young people will want to go out but in India the fear levels have seen even usage of the Delhi Metro being limited. We should not kid ourselves, the Coronavirus has infected close to 45 lakh Indians so far and claimed the lives of 75,000. This number is only going to rise, particularly as the winter sets in, and if history is any guide from the 1919 pandemic, the cold weather will only worsen things. This quandary of how to cope with the virus while ensuring livelihoods aren’t also ruined is not one that anyone begrudges this Government for.
Thursday, 10 September 2020 | Pioneer