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HRAWI requests Maha Govt. to allow restaurants to remain open through the week from 7AM To 12:30AM

Wednesday, July 14, 2021, 16:06 Hrs  [IST]
HBI Staff | Hyderabad

The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) has submitted a representation to the Government of Maharashtra including the Chief Minister - Uddhav Thackeray, Home Minister - Shri Dilip Walse Patil, Environment, Tourism and Protocol Minister - Shri Aaditya Thackeray, Principal Secretary, Tourism, Civil Aviation & State Excise - Valsa Nair Singh and Chief Secretary - Sitaram Kunte requesting relief for the restaurant industry in the State. The Association has pleaded for revision in timings and protocols to operate restaurants without restrictions in cities and districts with very low COVID19 cases. It has requested that restaurants falling under level 2 or 1 be allowed to operate as per the timings permitted under respective licenses. The HRAWI has asked that restaurants be allowed to operate through the week between 7 am and 12:30 am including Saturdays and Sundays.

“The entire State is operating at level 3 restrictions regardless of the positivity rate or the availability of oxygen or beds. This drastic step has resulted in quashing of legitimate expectations of hoteliers or restaurateurs to re-open their business post the second COVID19 wave. A significant number of people employed in restaurants or hotels are moving away from this sector and are accepting lower wage jobs over uncertain wages due to constant closures, revision of timings. This trend is dangerous. We request the Government to allow the restaurants to stay open from 7am to 12:30am or as per the time mentioned in their licenses, including weekends. These operation timings are likely to benefit a large number of players in this sector. It will also promote staggered venturing out of public. We urge the Government of Maharashtra to take the repercussions of such decisions into consideration and relax the lockdown restrictions in Mumbai in the wake of a dip in the positivity rate,” says Sherry Bhatia, President, HRAWI.

The Association has stated that the constant revision or alteration of parameters and conditions and restrictions convey uncertainty. Restaurant owners are constantly on their toes and are unsure about re-opening or bringing the staff back on board.

“Restaurants are operating at 50 per cent capacity while following all the mandated SOPs. This means that restaurants are not crowded at any point of time during its operational timings. Now whether the operational hours are between 7am and 4pm or 7am and 12:30 am, the restaurant is going to be seating only half its capacity. Increased operational hours do not mean that a restaurant’s capacity will increase. If the capacity doesn't increase and with all three prerequisites of sanitizing, mask and distance maintained all along the operating hours, as per their authorized timings, we assure the Government that only because of this time relaxation, there won't be any increase in COVID-19 infections. At present, restaurants are operating at half capacity for half a day and only on weekdays. With no specific relief or stimulus from the State Government, the industry continues to suffer. One of the biggest myths is the assumption that hotels and restaurants are super spreader places. This is simply not true; there is no fact in it. Operating in a controlled environment with all the SOPs make hotels and restaurants a COVID19 safe environment,” says Pradeep Shetty, Sr. Vice President, HRAWI.

“Even in the pre-pandemic days, a restaurant’s lunch-hour business accounted for just 15 to 20 per cent of the entire day’s revenue. On weekends, this would rise to about 30 to 35 per cent. But now, with a majority of offices operating WFH, the day business is next to nil and on weekends we are not being allowed to remain open. Essentially, we have been allowed to operate in an environment that makes only bad business sense. We therefore request that this condition be removed immediately and restaurants are allowed to operate as per their license timings and also on weekends,” adds Shetty.

“Over the last 15 odd months, various factors have resulted in massive financial losses due to the lockdown. Over 40 per cent of restaurants and hotels in the State have permanently closed. There is sheer unpredictability on when to open, when to close, what days to open, how much staff is required and what kind of inventory to maintain. This puts tremendous pressure on the business and does more harm than good. Under such uncertain circumstances, mobilizing operations of a hotel or restaurant property as well as recalling of employees and restarting of operations become an arduous task. It is extremely necessary for a business to get a sense of stability by allowing graded re-opening of this sector. We assure the Government that restaurants, as have always, will operate as per permissible guidelines, keeping in mind all the applicable SOPs for a safe and hygienic environment for its guests as well as its staff,” concludes Bhatia.

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