Melbourne’s stringent Stage 4 COVID-19 restrictions will be felt across the region, but they’ll really be a “kick in the guts” for multicultural businesses that are already operating on the edge, says one restaurant owner.
Amit Tuteja has been running Indian restaurant Desi Dhaba in the city’s central business district (CBD) since 2008 after coming to Australia from India in 1988 as an international student. Now, as Victoria enters its toughest battle against the coronavirus, he’s uncertain whether his restaurant will survive.
Restrictions announced on Sunday include a curfew from 8pm to 5am that will be in place for six weeks. As of midnight last night, restaurants can offer only takeaway or delivery.
“We are very worried. We are in the CBD, which is becoming a ghost town now,” Tuteja told HuffPost Australia. “I’m going to have to see whether it’s worth my while to keep it open or close it.”
The new Stage 4 restrictions announced Sunday include the 8 pm to 5 am curfew that will be in place for six weeks, barring the city’s nearly five million people from leaving their houses except for work or to receive or give care.
Production at meatworks will be cut by a third, and workers will be kitted out in protective gear. Construction will also be scaled back.
Supermarkets will remain open, along with restaurant takeaway and delivery services, but many other retail outlets will be closed.
Tuteja said his restaurant’s main trade occurs between 6pm and midnight. However, “people can’t even pick up takeaway from 7:45pm because you need to be home by 8pm”.
“We lose,” he said. “More than half my trade’s going to be gone.”
Though his business is listed on food delivery platforms like UberEats, DoorDash and Menulog, Tuteja said these services take a “huge chunk in commission,” meaning “it’s still not a lot that you get” at the end.
“We have our delivery drivers, but we can’t compete with UberEats and...