The regional unit of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) has requested Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to lift the weekend curfew in the state with immediate effect. The association believes the move will allow the hotel industry some “breathing space” since it survives mainly due to the business during weekends.
“Permit longer operating hours for the industry from the existing 10 pm to 11.30 pm on all days, since it will reduce overcrowding and the restaurants, bars, pubs and microbreweries can take bookings for patrons in slots at the existing 50 per cent seating capacity rules. Covid protocols to be enforced uniformly across all activities. In this regard, we would like to reiterate that the organized segment of the industry is committed to following all protocols/SOPs and will support the government in enforcing the same,” the letter to the chief minister read.
The association said that the food service sector has been going through a rough patch over the last couple of years owing to the pandemic. “Numerous studies, and even Government’s announcements have indicated that the patients in the current Omicron-dominated wave of the virus are far less likely to have severe disease and hospitalization than patients during the Delta-dominated wave. There is a need therefore to have a relook at the latest round of restrictions/curfews,” the letter said.
Mukesh Tolani of NRAI’s Bengaluru chapter said, “Our experience in the last two waves shows that the pandemic’s graph continued to decline after restaurants were opened up for operations, albeit with seating/timing restrictions. The industry continues to operate at 50% capacity since then – despite other activities like public transport/metros/airlines being permitted to operate at full capacity… the government has also decided to allow other activities like elections and related political rallies. It is also relevant to state that other countries like the USA, UK, Australia, South Africa and so on have not considered such severe restrictions despite a rise in overall numbers due to the Omicron strain. The focus, instead, has been to implement protocols like wearing of masks, maintaining social distancing and preventing overcrowding.”
The Bruhat Bangalore Hotels Association had on January 14 said that the Karnataka government’s directive to impose weekend curfew was not backed by scientific reasoning and requested the Prime Minister to advise the BJP government in the state to lift it.