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Saturday, January 22, 2022

‘Fighting for survival’: Industry body urges malls, landlords for relief to restaurants

According to NRAI, which represents more than 5 lakh eateries across India, the industry is in a precarious situation due to the restrictions imposed with the resurgence of infections in the country.

Written by Divya A | New Delhi |
Updated: January 7, 2022 11:04:07 pm
The suggestions in the letter include the waiver of rentals and revenue share, along with halving the common area maintenance charges for the time that the restrictions are enforced.

A day after appealing Prime Minister Narendra Modi for uniform Covid-19 curbs in India, the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) on Friday urged mall owners and landlords across the country “to urgently resolve commercial concerns” of the industry in view of the third wave of infections.

The NRAI has written individually to all prominent mall owners and released an open letter to landlords, suggesting immediate measures “to prevent instant death of businesses”, and avoid job losses and unwanted litigation.

The suggestions include the waiver of rentals and revenue share, along with halving the common area maintenance charges for the time that the restrictions are enforced.

According to NRAI, which represents more than 5 lakh eateries across India, the industry is in a precarious situation due to the restrictions imposed with the resurgence of infections in the country.

NRAI president Kabir Suri said they received several representations from its members requesting urgent interventions. “Unfortunately, the ongoing third wave has brought us to exactly where we were at the same time last year. To aggravate the problem, businesses have much-depleted resources now. We need support from all stakeholders once again to survive,” said Suri, co-founder and director of Azure Hospitality, which owns restaurants such as Mamagoto, Sly Granny and Dhaba.

He added: “While the first two waves crippled us and resource-crunch forced many restaurants to shut down, we see a larger concern with this third wave as it may actually hurt consumer sentiments in the near term. With high fixed overheads, expected restrictions on operating hours, revised social distancing norms and reduced capacity utilisation, any drop in consumer sentiments can be catastrophic for the sector… If the sector survives, we all will survive and perhaps hope to prosper later.”

On Thursday, NRAI wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking uniform Covid-19 protocols in India and direct states to permit longer operating hours for the industry to allow for better social distancing. It said in the letter that the industry is facing a “challenge of mere survival”.

Underscoring that preventing spread of the virus should be the priority of the government, NRAI said in the letter, “In doing so, however, the restaurant industry seems to have been singled out to be on the receiving end of the most stringent restrictions as compared to all other sectors/activities… It is evident that due to the above factors, the government has also decided to allow other activities like elections and related political rallies.”

The industry is among the worst hit in two years of the pandemic. Several states in India have limited dine-in capacity for restaurants and enforced partial curfews to contain the spread of the virus, which is spreading at a pace never seen before.

The body represents businesses valued at Rs 4,23,865 crore and that directly employ 7 million people, according to NRAI.

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