Tuesday, July 05
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Curfew: Night-time businesses feel the pinch

12 Oct 2020 By ANIRBAN RAY

The strict night curfew, now in place as a measure to check the  spread of COVID-19 in the sultanate, has evoked mixed reactions from people. While some have welcomed the move, several said they feel the pinch because of the restrictions.

Businesses like restaurants and fitness clubs are thought to be the most affected as a result of the night curfew.

Many restaurants in Ruwi and Ghubra do brisk business during evenings when bachelors as well as families come to dine.

Babu Aslam, a chef in a newly opened grill shop in Ruwi, said the business had only recently started after restrictions on certain activities were lifted.

“We are known for our kebabs and tikkas back in Mumbai, so we decided to start here. Things were gradually picking up here. This night curfew is a setback for people like us,” Aslam said.

While saying it takes time, manpower and money to start a business, he said he understood the situation.

“We have to abide by the law because lives are more important.”

Most restaurants in the city usually get customers only after 7pm, when people meet friends for chit-chat and coffee after office. Coffee and shawarma shops get the maximum customers during this time. 

Having to close their shops by 7pm (in view of the 8pm curfew) means they lose out a big chunk of their business.

Fawad K, who runs a coffee shop in Ruwi, said although his shop is open in the morning his main business starts after 7pm. 

“I usually employ some extra boys to assist me in my business. It is true that for several hours, my shop as well as others are very crowded. And it’s our business time.”

But Fawad welcomed the move.

“Though people wear masks, they hardly follow social distancing. So I welcome the move for the next few weeks and hope we will have better business soon.” 

Even though the lockdown starts from 8pm, people make it a point to close businesses by 7pm. As there is a rush to head back home, not many customers are seen in coffee shops and restaurants even at 7pm.

Sajid, who runs a jewellery shop in Muttrah with his brother, is disappointed with the latest announcement.

After months of lockdown, they restarted the shop in Muttrah souq and business was slowly returning.

“In the souq, life starts after 5pm. People love to spend some time in the shops selling antiques and small coffee shops here.  Ladies like to spend time trying on the jewellery.” 

He said it’s difficult to do business in a rush.

“There are customers who come from places like Seeb and Mawaleh. But now with this deadline, no one will be coming. People cannot shop in a hurry. I hope they find a vaccine for this virus soon as it has already impacted our livelihood.”

Gyms and fitness clubs are also affected due to the nighttime curfew.

An instructor in a fitness club in Ghala said, “Before, we used to run our classes from 7pm to 9pm but now with the lockdown, we have to conduct them earlier. It is tough as most of my students are working and they have to finish their work and immediately come here. That will be tough for them. At the same time, they also need to finish here and rush home fast.”

He said that after the previous lockdown, the number of students has slowly dropped.

“And now with this night curfew, I will lose more students.”

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