Maharashtra: Hospitality Segment Apprehensive Over New Covid-19 Restrictions; Says 30% Of Hotels Could Shut DownRepresentative image of a bar-cum-restaurant (representative image) (Photo by Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint via Getty Images)

Maharashtra state government’s recent directive compelling restaurants, cinema halls and malls to close down by 8 pm has not gone down well with the hospitality, and the food and beverages industry. They complain that restaurants were permitted to restart operations only from October 2020 post the nationwide lockdown.

They also had to adhere to stricter norms during the business-friendly New Year’s Eve period. Speaking to Indian Express, a cafe owner from Andheri mentioned that they already function at only 50 per cent capacity and hence there are times during weekdays when the restaurants are filled to only 20 per cent of the total limit.

In fact, they attract more customers during the 8-11pm time period than the entire day, and hence the recently announced restrictions are only going to cause them further trouble.

The Hotel and Restaurants Association of Western India (HRAWI) has also revealed that these new rules could end up shutting down around 30 per cent of hotels. Meanwhile, owners of shops situated in malls have alleged that random Covid-19 testing in their premises coupled with curbed timings for stores will negatively impact the overall demand for bigger products.

Senior vice president of HRAWI Pradeep Shetty told Indian Express, “After an ease in lockdown, many restaurants and hotels opened in between October and December. Owners spent a lot to put businesses back in order. Now this has happened. Hotels and lunch businesses are not there as corporates are not working or they have adopted work from home.”

He added, “In any case, the lunch business was about 20 per cent of the entire business and dinner is about 90 per cent. Dinner business starts after 8pm, and hotels are being shut at that time. So, it completely becomes unviable to keep your business open.” Shetty revealed that more employee layoffs could be seen in the coming times.

He explained that 30 per cent of hotels that existed prior to the lockdown had closed down permanently already and another 30 per cent of them could proceed in the same direction now. Moreover, only 20 per cent of businesses can be kept operational through online deliveries. The HRAWI is set to write to the state government and ask for a reversal of their stringent decisions.

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