The state hotel association appreciated the gesture but noted that more work needed to be done to support restaurants.

karnataka chief minister yediyurappa eats at a hotel in front of his sits tejasvi surya smilingCourtesy: CMofKarnataka twitter handle
news Unlock 1.0 Saturday, June 13, 2020 - 16:48

After weeks of staying indoors due to the nationwide lockdown, Bengaluru residents are slowly starting to step out of their homes once more. Perhaps in an effort to reassure citizens who are still weary of returning to normalcy, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa visited MTR (Mavalli Tiffin Room) on Lalbagh Road for breakfast on Saturday morning. The Chief Minister was joined by Karnataka Revenue Minister R Ashoka and Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya at the eatery, which serves tiffin items such as idli, vada, dosa and filter coffee.

Restaurants have been allowed to open with certain restrictions from June 8 onwards, but many residents are still hesitant to step out. Cases of coronavirus are continuing to climb throughout the country as well as in the state. Karnataka has reported 6,516 cases of coronavirus to date. The state capital Bengaluru has had 617 cases so far.

Many eateries across the city have reported significant challenges in continuing their operations after the lockdown left many in the lurch. Darshinis, Bengaluru's ubiquitous eateries that are spread across the city, have similarly struggled to stay afloat. Malls have also seen lower footfall as they have opened to the public for the first time in weeks. While some have said they are unable to pay rent, others have faced staff shortage issues as the lockdown forced many migrant workers to travel back to their native states.

In order to function, eateries are tasked with following a number of new regulations to minimise the chances of spreading the coronavirus. Some restaurants have affixed plastic divisions on tables to maintain physical distance norms, such as in Vidyarthi Bhavan. All restaurants have said that they are maintaining hygiene by keeping track of staff temperatures, making sure they wear gloves, masks, and regular disinfection of all surfaces.

Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar has said that the number of COVID-19 cases will likely peak in August this year, according to experts who studied the spread of the virus.

Read: The struggles of Bengaluru's Darshinis during lockdown – and the long road to recovery

Chandrashekar Hebbar, the Karnataka Pradesh Hotels and Restaurants Association (KPHRA) president, told TNM that while the Chief Minister's visit to MTR is a good gesture, more work will be needed to support restaurants and help them get back on their feet. He noted that Yediyurappa should have visited a smaller eatery, rather than a popular chain restaurant. “[The Chief Minister] should not have gone to a high-end hotel like MTR. In such a hotel, one masala dosa is Rs 100. He should have instead gone to a middle-class place, which most middle-class people go to, and should have set an example in that way.”

Chandrashekar also laments the lack of support from the government. “We’re struggling, and we are unable to pay high rents. We had asked the government for an interest free loan of Rs 5 lakh for a period of 2 years to tide over the crisis. But we have not gotten any response from the government.”