KOLKATA: The impact of withdrawal of Covid-safety restrictions, especially the night curbs, was evident across the city as soon as the clock struck midnight on April 1.
From south Kolkata to north, from the popular hangout zones of Sarat Bose Road and Park Street to Salt Lake, restaurants and eateries remained open till their pre-pandemic schedule for the first time in two years, allowing patrons to grab late-night dinner. Even motorists no longer had to rush back home within the deadline though the number of vehicles on the road was not unusually high.
“We should not let our guard down against novel coronavirus yet but it was high time that people’s movements at night were freed up. All the places would shut latest by 11pm and we had nowhere to go at night, where we could meet up with friends and have food,”said Ijaz Ashraf, a businessman, who went to a popular street food hangout zone on EM Bypass with his wife and two daughters on Thursday night. “We have come for a long drive after two years as there will be no night deadline,” said Ashraf. Close to 25 shops selling snacks and street food were abuzz with patrons, chatting and eating by the road, well past midnight. More than 50 cars were parked on the Goutam’s stretch on E M Bypass and service boys ran from one vehicle to another, serving their orders.
On Sarat Bose Road in South Kolkata, all the floors of Jai Hind Dhaba were full even at 12.45am, families having their first late-night dinner outside in two years. More waited in their cars outside for their orders to arrive. “We planned this dinner when we heard the Dhaba would be open past midnight,” said Ambar Singh, a resident of Chakraberia North.
Azad Hind Dhaba on Ballygunge Circular Road, popular for after-party meals, was also open past midnight. “We did not have any space left. Our boys are running from one car to another with orders. The business was good the very first night,” said a manager.
But some street food clusters near IT offices in New Town and Salt Lake remained shut on Thursday night. “We will wait for a few more days before we open after midnight. We had been told to shut by 10pm,” said the owner of a shack near Ecospace in New Town.