Mumbai, Sept: In response to Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India’s (HRAWI) query on the re-opening of restaurants with dine-in services in the State, the Government has clarified that restaurants are not allowed to reopen as yet. Days ahead of the Maharashtra Government’s latest unlock order, the Association had written to the Government seeking relaxations for the Hospitality Industry including the re-opening of restaurants and also allowing hotels to operate at 100 per cent capacities. While the Government has given a nod to the later, the former request did not find any mention in the order dated 31st August 2020.
The industry has appreciated the Government’s decision to allow hotels to operate with full capacity but is pressing on the Government to reconsider its decision to allow restaurants to re-open with dine-in services as well.
Among other relaxation, the State has discarded the need of obtaining e-pass for inter-District of movement of goods and persons. However, the Industry has raised concerns over restrictions that are still being imposed by local Governing bodies like Panchayats in villages.
“We are glad that the Government has allowed 100 per cent capacity utilization for hotels in the State. Restaurants inside hotels are allowed to open for only in-house guests. But this still leaves the industry half submerged. Restaurants are the backbone of the Hospitality Industry and kick-starting restaurant operations with dine-in services is the need of the hour for the State, especially when restaurants across the country have been allowed to reopen except in Maharashtra. Let alone the industry point of view, now that the State has allowed free inter-District movement, people are going to need places to eat at during their transit. Without restaurants and eateries, people are going to have a difficult time with no place open to dine-in,” says Mr. Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, President, HRAWI.
No other Industry has been as severely hit as Hospitality is. Hotels and restaurants across the country are grappling with several challenges ranging from loss of revenues to piling debts, bankruptcy and shortage of staff to business survival.
“It is an encouraging move and we are thankful to the Government. Although the order does remedy the issue of limited occupancy for hotels but it continues to impose a limit on the number of people allowed at social gatherings such as for marriage functions. We have asked that the number of pax allowed for meetings and social gatherings be linked to the size of the venues or halls. Many Hotels and Restaurants have large banquet halls and open spaces to host larger gatherings while maintaining the required social distancing norms. Venues can accommodate 50 per cent of original capacity following a grid of 6 ft. distance between guests. Of course, this is a request in addition to the more important and pressing need for re-opening restaurants in the State,” says Mr. Pradeep Shetty, Vice President, HRAWI.
Among other requests, the HRAWI has asked the Government to allow sale of liquor at restaurants as has been allowed in other states like Delhi, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Goa and Diu. It has also recommended that adjoining and adjacent open spaces and terraces be used for restaurants. The Association has requested the Government for releasing the compensation for the requisitioned hotels for services rendered by them for accommodating Doctors, essential services workers, Quarantined persons and other Governmental staff over the past five months.
“We are grateful to the Government and its officers for having handled the pandemic adeptly. Our fraternity has assisted and fully supported the Government of Maharashtra in handling the situation during the most difficult months of the pandemic. In view of this, we have requested the Government to consider our concerns and suggestions and most importantly releasing the payment of compensation for requisitioned hotels for the past five months immediately, which would help the Industry to catch up with the ever mounting commitments and liabilities,” concludes Mr. Kohli.
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