The Maharashtra government has ordered restaurants, bars to remain shut to restrict the spread of Covid-19 restrictions. Only restaurants that are a part of hotels will be allowed to stay open. Takeaways and home deliveries are permitted between 7 am and 8 pm every day, even on weekends. The home delivery personnel need to carry a negative RT-PCR test report valid for 15 days until they get vaccinated.
The state authorities have given permission to public transport owners to operate but with limited capacity. Autorickshaws can carry only two passengers at one time. Taxis can have 50 per cent of vehicle capacity excluding the driver. Offenders and passengers not wearing masks will be fined Rs 500 each. For out-station trains, standing passengers are not allowed in the general compartment, further making it inconvenient for the passengers to travel to Mumbai and other cities of Maharashtra.
Although Maharashtra Nava Nirman Sena Chief Raj Thackrey and the Opposition leaders have pledged to support the government in its fresh curbs but the Hotels and Restaurant Association finds the decision hard-hitting for the hospitality sector.
Pradeep Shetty, Joint Secretary of the Federation of Hotels and Restaurants Association of India talking to the Indian Express has raised concern about the loss of livelihoods over recurring losses of restaurant owners.
Talking about how badly Covid-19 has hit the industry Shetty said that the source of livelihood of more than 2 lakh people in Mumbai belonging to the unorganized sector, has been extremely disturbed. Almost 50 per cent of the restaurants has put shutters down permanently, 20 per cent are reeling under losses and over 20 per cent haven’t opened fully since lockdown was lifted. The rest of the eateries are operating with revenues below 50 per cent of the pre-Covid level.
Approximately two lakh people faced job loss in the hospitality industry and no support was extended from the government, he further mentioned.
A representative of the industry, Shetty now wants industry status and waiver of statutory payments from the government as the relief means to aid during these tough times. Shetty further claimed that the relief packages provided by the government through various ministries, RBI were inadequate and did not reach out to beneficiaries properly.
Talking about the challenges the eateries and restaurants are facing now, he said that for restrictions and work from home arrangements no much business is happening during day hours especially from office, college-goers. Moreover, night curfew has turned to be a dampener as ninety per cent of the revenue of restaurants is from dining.
Shetty mentioned that he has requested for increasing the curfew time to 11 pm for restaurants to do business. If the curfew continues beyond April 15, Shetty fears that it will impact the industry that contributes 10 per cent of India’s GDP to the point of ‘extinction.’ Also since 7- per cent of the workforce belonging to the unorganized sector, the new restrictions will come as ‘catastrophe 2.0’ for the hospitality industry, the Federation of Hotels and Restaurants Association member said.
Shetty concluded that the myth that restaurants spread Covid-19 infections should be corrected. Furthering pressing on his request for increasing curfew time he said the owners should take it on themselves to comply with the Protocols