Between sips: The diner’s dilemma in the time of Covid

By: |
September 20, 2020 3:00 AM

The government, realising that the damage to the economy might prove to be more deadly than even the virus, finally relented to a phased opening of services.

The year 2020 is about survival and not profits, so outlets, I am sure, won’t push anything into the beyond manageable zone.The year 2020 is about survival and not profits, so outlets, I am sure, won’t push anything into the beyond manageable zone.

We are surging ahead with the second-highest number of recorded Covid cases in the world. In such a scenario, should you venture out to eat and drink?

I have been taunted by friends to no end about how, when the country had a few hundred cases, I locked myself up, and now, when we are surging ahead with the second-highest number of recorded cases in the world, I am daring to venture out not just for essentials, but even to bars and restaurants. Well, not that I need to defend a personal stance, definitely not with friends, but the difference lies in the preparation before, during and after each sortie.

The government, realising that the damage to the economy might prove to be more deadly than even the virus, finally relented to a phased opening of services. I am still flummoxed why alcohol service was held up for so long, considering alcohol earns outlets (and the state governments) the most sizeable chunk of revenue.

But back to the agenda today: should you venture out to eat and drink or not? Well, here are my arguments for and against it. Let’s handle the cons first:
Cases are rising: The chances of contracting corona are higher now than two months ago so, yes, maybe staying in would keep you safe. But realistically, if you have resumed your morning walks, newspaper deliveries and are allowing home help in, you are exposing yourself to the same amount of risk.

Places may be crowded: This is possible and the priority of the outlets is to ensure it doesn’t happen. Finding even one positive would mean having to close down for a good part of a month. The year 2020 is about survival and not profits, so outlets, I am sure, won’t push anything into the beyond manageable zone.
Funds deficit: I have nothing against the opening of outlets, but my shrivelled up resources mean I don’t have the luxury of spending on outings like I used to, so curbing those visits might be a good idea. Sadly, a recent survey showed that a clear majority across all major metros is feeling the pinch, and the ripple effect of our dwindling economy has begun.

Now, let’s see why one should go out.

Support: When you drink and eat out, you help not just the outlet and its employees, but a whole line of people involved in production and services behind the scene.

Small over franchise: Avoid the big chains. Definitely ditch all those franchised outlets, which are more about VC funding and turning a quick buck for their “promoters”, but be careful not to eschew those serious restaurateurs where the owners are as much invested in the F&B inputs as with their other resources, the guys who put their money and hopes on the line. The small handheld boutique outlets need all the support we can show them. If you don’t want to visit them, try ordering in.

Bars: I need a drink even if it is a simple beer although when I do hit a bar, it will be more likely for a peaty whisky sour. And there are some things that are just so much better when you get them served to you.

Malls: I have managed quite well with online shopping, but on my last visit to a mall, I realised that while online shopping is great, it doesn’t beat the tactility of holding a product. So yes, shopping can be attempted as long as we avoid crowded marketplaces and hit the malls. I wonder if malls have a count on how many people they allow inside at any point in time?

I am still requesting everyone to exercise caution and restrict the unnecessary, but it’s not easy being locked up, so when you feel like taking a break, remember to be extra careful, constantly sanitise and wear a mask!

The writer is a sommelier

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