According to the ETHW report, the restaurant industry which was badly hit during the lockdown is already grappling with SOPs to follow like 50% seating capacity, payment of licence fees etc. “The sudden curbs announced by the state government will have a major impact on our industry. The restaurants are headed towards complete collapse and if the government doesn't give a second thought then days are not far to see the reverse migration of our staff to their home states soon,” Shivanand Shetty, President of AHAR stated.
Around 30% of restaurants have already shut permanently due to the unavailability of the business. To run a mid-sized restaurant, one requires a minimum of 50 employees for smooth operations. Shetty believes that if such frequent curbs are introduced without giving much thought, businesses will be doomed and will be left with no option other than to shut shops permanently.
Restaurateurs are already witnessing the workforce shifting to an alternate source of income or worse migrating to their home states. “There are around two crore families in Maharashtra who are directly and indirectly dependent on our business and we can’t have people losing their source of income if the collapse of the industry doesn’t halt soon,” Shetty further stated.
The Associations have stated that actual business for a restaurant starts after 8 pm and a night curfew imposition from 8 pm is tantamount to the closure of business. Due to the prevailing restrictions and WFH arrangements, restaurants have no significant business in the day.
It is only after October 2020, that restaurants in Maharashtra were allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity with time restrictions. But the resurgence of the pandemic at regular intervals led to more severe restrictions disrupting all its revival efforts. The FHRAI HRAWI have stated that the rental and salary expenses, servicing of debts taken earlier, negative cash flows, and the statutory payment obligations have made Hospitality the most unviable and unsustainable business under the present situation.
“8 pm to 1 am is the time when the main restaurant business happens in the city. If we lose the main business hours, our survival will be zero. Not to forget that our revenues are already down. Government too cannot afford a complete shutdown because their revenues will be lost too. We suggest strict and proper restrictions and SOPs should be followed rather than complete closure,” said Sherry Bhatia, President of HRAWI.
FHRAI HRAWI have written to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra – Uddhav Thackeray requesting urgent facilitative measures for the Hospitality sector in the form of waiver of statutory payments including excise license fees and property tax, among others along with the relaxation of curfew timing for restaurants.