New Delhi, Jan 10 (PTI) Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) has urged Maharashtra to allow establishments of the sector in the state to remain open up to 11 pm instead of 10 pm, saying businesses have put in a lot of effort to restart operations and the new COVID wave will debilitate the hospitality industry without government support.
Hotels and restaurants had just started to return to normalcy after about 15 months of restricted operations. After the two successive lockdowns, hotels and restaurants have infused significant capital to reopen and restart operations, HRAWI Senior Vice-President Pradeep Shetty said in a statement.
“Presently there is considerable fear and anxiety in the sector. The effects of the new Covid wave will debilitate the hospitality industry. We request the state government to allow us to operate at least till 11 pm,” he added.
Under its new COVID-19 guidelines, the state government has put restrictions on malls and restaurants, asking them to be closed between 10 pm and 8 am, while those entering need to be fully vaccinated. These establishments are allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity.
Shetty said there has been a lot of effort towards bringing back workers and repayment of loans taken to restart operations after the lockdowns is another major area of concern.
“The state government will have to support us this time around if a disaster is to be averted. It should immediately come out with a direct salary transfer scheme for hospitality employees in addition to waiving off all statutory fees, taxes and utility bills,” he said.
He added, “It is also imperative upon the government to come up with a credit extension scheme or some kind of moratorium to protect the owners and operators from credit defaults owing to the third wave.” Terming the current situation as “deeply distressing”, Shetty said,”While we stand behind the state government and support the fight against Covid without reservations, the hospitality industry will not be able to fend the challenge off on its own.” The sector has been operating under various restrictions, be it in terms of timing or capacity, since the pandemic started in March 2020, he said adding,”The impact of lockdown measures and restrictions considered in totality amounts to a loss of business to the tune of 80 per cent.” The industry has suffered massive losses with many hotels and restaurants facing closure and bankruptcy. Over 35 per cent of the hotels and restaurants have closed down in the last two years, Shetty said.
“Such restrictions have a long-term impact on trade, industry and their effect on the economy will be harmful. This wave has rendered us locked in even without a literal lockdown as the hotels and restaurants are deserted,” he lamented.
Stressing that the industry will be permanently debilitated if urgent relief measures are not forthcoming, Shetty said,”The government will have to step in and lend us a supporting hand this time around.” PTI RKL ABM ABM
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