If airlines can ask for COVID test results and vaccine certificates to operate at full capacity, why can’t it be the same for restaurants?, said Gauri Devidayal who owns the famous fine-dining restaurant The Table in Mumbai.
In a latest relaxations released on Monday, the Maharashtra government allowed ease of restrictions in 25 districts of the state. In the latest order, in Mumbai, the restaurants and bar can remain open for dine in on all days till 4 pm; including weekends. Earlier, they were allowed to operate till 4 pm only on weekdays, with parcel and takeaway, home deliveries on weekends.
But for a sector that has already seen too many closures, it would still be a death to an industry that contributes a lot in the country’s economy and employment.
The restaurant industry has been demanding relaxation in operating hours, citing losses in crores and job losses owing to the closure during the pandemic.
“Needless to say we are happy that we are one step closer to normalcy however hope to get permission for dinner as well. With very little choice, we have to make the most of it but do hope that the authorities play fair from here on,” said Syesha Kapoor, Associate Director, Silver Beach Entertainment and Hospitality.
According to Pradeep Shetty, Senior Vice President, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI), the government’s decision on not giving major relief to the industry has shocked them.
“In the first wave of the pandemic, restaurants were closed for 11 months and four months during the second wave. There is no reason for imposing restrictions on restaurant timings. If it is going to continue, then the least the state government needs to do is waive the applicable statutory charges for restaurants," added Shetty.
The experts have also cited the move as cruel by adding that the government has left restaurants with no option. Sharing on Instagram, restaurateur Hitesh Keswani posted, “street vendors allowed and serving on streets allowed. Sadly we are suffering and so are more than 5 lac employees whose families depend on our restaurant.”
Devidayal also felt that the restrictions imposed on restaurants defy logic when flights are operating at full capacity and street food stalls are continuing to serve till late at night. “Better vigilance of defaulters would be more economically viable than restricting operating hours like this. But at this point, I’ll take these scraps for now,” she pointed.