The state government has allowed malls, markets and restaurants to operate at 50% capacity. Cinemas and drama theatres have also been allowed 50% capacity. The only riders are that those entering have to be fully vaccinated and that all these establishments have to close between 10 pm and 8 am.
“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. 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 Govt. to allow us to operate at least till 11 pm. There has been a lot of effort put in to bring back workers. Repayment of loans taken to restart operations after the lockdowns is another major area of concern. The State Govt. 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 statuary fees, taxes and utility bills. It is also imperative upon the Govt 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,” says Pradeep Shetty, Sr Vice President, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI).
“The situation is deeply distressing, to say the least. While we stand behind the state Govt and support the fight against Covid without reservations, the hospitality industry will not be able to fend the challenge off on its own. We have been operating under various restrictions, be it in terms of timing or capacity, since the pandemic started in March 2020. The impact of lockdown measures and restrictions considered in totality amounts to a loss of business to the tune of 80%. The industry has suffered massive losses with many hotels and restaurants facing closure and bankruptcy. Over 35 percent of the hotels and restaurants have closed down in the last two years. 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. The Govt will have to step in and lend us a supporting hand this time around. The industry will be permanently debilitated if urgent relief measures are not forthcoming,” says Shetty.