“This is the REAL UNLOCK we were waiting for,” said Sandeepraj Salian, Co-Founder Farmaaish who is delighted to hear the news about relaxed restrictions for restaurants. “It is something we have been praying and fighting for. We have made all arrangements for social distancing and other required guidelines to comply with the authorities,” he added.
Guardian Minister for Pune Ajit Pawar held a meeting with associations and officers in Pune on Sunday and has allowed restaurants in Pune and Pimpri Chichwad region to operate till 10 PM.
"In Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad, all the shops can remain open till 8 pm for six days a week. All hotels, restaurants allowed to operate with 50 per cent seating capacity till 10 pm on all days. All relaxations to be effective from August 9," shared Pawar by adding that looking at the constant positivity rate at 3.3 per cent in Pune and at 3.5 per cent in Pimpri Chinchwad, the government is relaxing some norms for business. “Pune rural areas will continue to remain under the current level-3 restrictions owing to a high positivity rate," he added.
Pune restaurateurs have been on the brunt of all the restrictions since months. Earlier this June, bars and restaurants were allowed to stay open till 10 pm at 50 per cent occupancy but two weeks later, the timing was changed till 4 pm at the same capacity.
In a major relief, Pune restaurants, bars, eateries and food courts are now allowed to open till 10 pm, all days including weekend. The restaurants will also be open for delivery till 11 pm.
“The hospitality and restaurant industry has suffered huge losses in the past 16 months and this order to relax the timings of operations comes as a huge relief,” shared Ganesh Shetty, President, PUNE RESTAURANTS & HOTELIERS ASSOCIATION by adding that the Pune restaurant and hotel association takes this opportunity to be in gratitude and thank the state government for the relaxation in Covid Protocols.
The industry is also apprehensive and is wishing no further change in operational hours. As per report, COVID has already made 20-25 per cent of the restaurant business in the city close permanently. And, more and more restaurants are now running with staff shortages because with fluctuations in operational hours, many staffs have gone back to their home states and towns.
As per Shetty, 90 per cent of the restaurant staff falling under PRHA is now vaccinated with 1st dose and within another 1.5-2 months time they will get all staff fully vaccinated. “We started vaccination late for younger crowd and most of our staffs fall under 18-44 brackets,” added Shetty who is happy to share that it will now be people going to restaurants who will be seen on roads till late hours in the evening as others shops and mall establishments will be closing by 8 pm.
A similar order has been issued by Nagpur district guardian minister Nitin Raut who has also allowed restaurants and bars to operate till 10 pm all days at 50 per cent capacity.