One year on: Here’s how local businesses in Jaipur coped with COVID-19 pandemic
Jaipur: Almost a year ago this week, Jaipur with the rest of the country went into multiple spells of corona-induced lockdowns, numerous restraints on travel and movements. Once lockdowns ended for good, night-curfews became commonplace.
These adversities nearly sank several industries like tourism, food, and gyms that by the virtue of their nature are earmarked as “high-risk,” however the situation is returning to normalcy in all three sectors. However, a lurking fear of a possible second-wave continues to stalk these three major industries.
Tourism and hospitality
The pandemic coupled with multiple spells of lockdown and travel restrictions took the sheen out of Jaipur’s tourism industry. Many tourist spots like Amber fort and Jal Mahal lay deserted for several months until domestic travel norms were eased up. According to Nirmal Jhalani, who runs a tourist agency, local tourists are filling up the void left by global tourists. “It will take several days for the situation to return to their pre-covid days. We are now focusing over selves to cater to the domestic tourists because Europe and USA are still in the middle of covid heat,” he said. Domestic tourists from Mumbai, Pune, New Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Indore, Banglore, and Chennai make up for the major chunk of tourists in Jaipur and Rajasthan. Tourists from Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu want to visit religious locations like Nathdwara and Jain temples, but they also like to visit forts and places in Udaipur, Chittorgarh, Jaipur, and Jodhpur.
Tourists from New Delhi are now visiting Jaipur very frequently on weekends to battle boredom that sets in after working from home for several hours. “Tourists from Gurugram and New Delhi usually come to city in driving their own cars. More than sightseeing, they tend to explore city’s caffes, shopping areas etc,” Jhalani said.
Cafes and restaurants
Many restaurants and cafes that were already on borrowed times had to close their permanently soon after lockdown measures were enforced. However, since October this year, cafes and restaurants are slowly emerging out of the crisis. Many of these joints insist on social distancing and proper face masks. “Situation is slowly returning to normal, it’s a new reality that we have to live with. But we are finding a way to fight slowdown. We are organizing small concerts, open mics, and special discounts on weekdays to lure back clients, it is beginning to show results,” said the owner of a bar and restaurant.
Gyms and fitness
Gyms were hit hardest due to corona-induced restraints. There has been a common fear of the virus spreading fast in confined spaces and through fitness equipment that is shared by multiple people. These lurking dangers kept many fitness sticklers avoiding gyms. However, in the past six months, gyms have again begun to fill up. “The business before covid hit us remains a distant reality now. Whatever business we get now is enough to keep us stay afloat,” said Arjun Jhajaria, a gym owner. Arjun, however, sees a silver line in an otherwise grey sky. “People have become more aware of the fitness due to corona. The virus was particularly merciless on people with obesity and fat. Many people who have never gone to the gym want to add a two-hour window for an extensive workout. I am hopeful that if the second wave is averted and vaccinations ramps up, more people will join gyms than ever before,” he said.