Posh Delhi clubs in dire straits as business comes to standstill

New Delhi: As hotels gear up to open their doors to clients and restaurants eagerly waiting for directions to start serving liquor, exclusive leisurely clubs across the city are gasping for breath as crowds have disappeared and income has hit rock-bottom, with employees saying that conferences and exhibitions — a mainstay at many such clubs — have gone digital while food takeaways for members has become the new normal.

At India International Centre, Secretary Kanwal Vali said the capacity at the dining hall and lounge has been reduced to half and customers are close to none. "There are two sets of waiters, one that serves the meal and the other that disposes of the leftovers," he said, adding the food comes completely packaged out of the kitchen and guests are allowed to open it themselves.

Anant Bagaitker, Secretary-General, Press Club of India, said they opened their restaurant a few months back, but had to shut it down due to a weak response and now survive on takeaways. "Right now, around two halls are functioning where we have allowed a maximum of 30 people to gather at a time with safety protocols," he said. Bagaitker lamented, "The bar is a major money-turner and we are desperately waiting for a nod to open it."

The Delhi government has already directed the Excise department to allow the sale of liquor but only at the tables and in hotel rooms.

At IIC's library, Vali said the reading room's capacity had been reduced and returned books are quarantined for five days. On resuming room check-ins, he said, "We are still studying the government protocols and once everything is in place, we shall proceed accordingly".

Shivam, an employee at Delhi Gymkhana Club, said that only some of the sports facilities have been resumed. "All the restaurants are shuttered and we haven't received any notice whatsoever from authorities on their resumption," he said, adding that they are offering takeaway services for now.

At The Foreign Correspondents' Club of South Asia, Manager Sanjay Massey said press conferences have gone online further adding to the reducing footfall. At Delhi Golf Club, while the 18-hole course is functional, an employee said only the coffee shop has been opened as of now. At clubs like India Habitat Centre and Constitution Club of India, employees said all services have currently been suspended while no plans on resumption have been notified yet.

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