Four Dubai restaurants are offering discounts to residents who have received the Covid-19 vaccine.
Alpine restaurant Publique, British restaurant Reform Social and Grill and Ultra Brasserie, all of which are run by Gates Hospitality, announced on Sunday an offer that gives residents 10 per cent off their bill if they have already received the first dose of a vaccine and 20 per cent off after having both shots. Bistro des Arts, also under Gates Hospitality, announced the same deal on Monday.
With the slogan, “Spread love, not 'Rona”, the offer has been shared on the restaurants' Instagram pages, provoking a range of reactions from residents and social media users.
“Our firm determination is to stand by the [Dubai Health Authority] in their efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic with multiple vaccines and to encourage the residents of this vibrant city to take the two doses,” says Naim Maadad, founder of Gates Hospitality.
“The goal is to encourage people to go in for the vaccination and incentivise others to do their bit in the fight to stop the spread of the virus.
“The vaccine has been endorsed by medical professionals and the World Health Organisation. All we want is to conduct business in a responsible manner,” Maadad says.
The restaurants have confirmed they will be adhering to the new physical distancing guidelines implemented by the government.
Under new directives issued by the emirate's Supreme Committee for Crisis and Disaster Management on Friday, the number of people allowed to sit together at the same table in Dubai restaurants has been reduced from 10 to seven and only four people will be allowed to sit together in cafes. The minimum distance between tables has also been increased from two to three metres.
To qualify for the restaurant deal, Gates Hospitality say that customers must be able to show proof of vaccination.
Just a few hours after posting about the discounts, the promotions have created a buzz online.
Anonymous food critic FoodSheikh has commented that the restaurants are "getting creative with their discounts" while Samantha Wood, founder of impartial restaurant review website, FooDiva.net, called it a "controversial strategy".
"It's a very creative approach and the industry certainly needs as much innovation as it can get at the moment. I expect a strategy like this might appeal to those who have been vaccinated because many love a discount – but it may alienate those who have not been vaccinated. Furthermore, in challenging times, if restaurants are prepared to offer discounts, they should perhaps focus on rewarding loyalty, irrespective of vaccination certificate," says Wood.
Others have hailed the decision as “amazing”, seeing it as a positive step towards encouraging residents to get vaccinated, while pointing out that some adults would be unable to take the vaccine due to health concerns.
Food blogger Aneesha Rai advised caution, as those vaccinated can still spread the virus.
“Getting a vaccine doesn’t mean you’re 100 per cent safe from Covid-19. I guess the partial thought behind this is that diners and staff are slightly better protected and can dine and serve respectively with piece of mind. It also shows that restaurants are supporting DHA’s directives, which good for overall public health,” she says.
“But would vaccinated people go to a restaurant just because they’re offering a 10 per cent discount? That’s subjective – I wouldn’t.”