“I think there is going to be another lockdown soon."
Curry house owners in Bradford fear another lockdown will ruin their chances of bouncing back.
This comes amid an increase in cases related to the variant that was first identified in India.
Restaurant owners have had to rely on takeaway orders throughout the pandemic.
But on May 17, 2021, they reopened for indoor dining.
Bradford’s Karachi restaurant on Neal Street opened at 11 am and welcomed its first indoor diners soon after.
Mumrez Khan owns the restaurant. He said it has been a difficult few months and he was on the verge of closing due to declining trade.
But he is worried that another lockdown is coming soon, saying:
“I think there is going to be another lockdown soon.
“This (indoor dining) is going to be temporary for a few weeks because of the new variant.”
Dr Zulficar Ali owns Bradford’s Sweet Centre. He believes some people are scared of going out due to the new Covid-19 strain.
However, he says customers are calling to book tables for the evenings.
He said: “It’s good to be back and open. We are looking forward and we believe that business will pick up.
“Our loyal customers have been ringing and we are confident that people will come and eat out.”
Mr Ali went on to say that businesses that survived the pandemic will bounce back.
He added: “Those who have lasted and survived will do well in the future because there is always demand to eat out.”
Mr Ali said the first day had been “slow” with just 10 eat-in diners until 2 pm but he expects it to pick up soon.
Bars and pub owners are also concerned about if and when customers will return. Some have decided to delay their reopening date.
John Mitchell, of Rumshackalack, is waiting until May 20, 2021, until reopening.
He is confident that it will be busy once people get used to the idea of drinking and dining inside. But he is concerned about the risk of another lockdown.
He said: “Will we end up in another lockdown? Already they are warming us up with the Indian variant and saying it could be a problem?
“I think Boris is good at doing sound bites to see what the reaction is. If people seem quite happy, we will do it.”
Despite Covid-19 support grants, Mr Mitchell says his bar has been losing approximately £500 a week.
“We’ve had to pay out more than what we get back in grants.
“Furlough does not pay National Insurance and pension. We are just scraping through.”
Mr Mitchell says delaying opening allows him some “breathing space” in order to “get it right” and make sure everyone is following the rules.
He added: “It has been very tough. It has been very tough for Bradford for a number of years.
“Last time (lockdown was lifted) people were very wary and it took them a while.”