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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Maharashtra: Hospitality sector irked by relaxation order, seeks assistance from govt for sustenance

As per the new directives, shops and other establishments in Mumbai can remain open till 10 pm but hotels and restaurants will have to shut by 4 pm through the week.

Written by Sanjana Bhalerao | Mumbai |
August 3, 2021 11:32:19 am
Industry experts said only 20 per cent eateries have reopened from June 7, when the relaxation was announced by the state government. (Express Photo)

The hospitality sector of Maharashtra has expressed their displeasure at the state government’s decision of not extending the time for which they can remain open.

The Maharashtra government on Monday had further eased lockdown restrictions for 25 districts, including Mumbai. As per the new directives, shops and other establishments in Mumbai can remain open till 10 pm but hotels and restaurants will have to shut by 4 pm through the week.

There is no major relief for hotels and restaurants in the city except that they can now be open till 4 pm on all days for dining in, including weekends. So far, they were allowed to operate only on weekdays.

Hoteliers had earlier said that for many businesses, it is not viable to operate only till 4 pm. There are around 90,000 eateries, restaurants, cafes and bars in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. However, the industry experts said only 20 per cent, mostly breakfast eateries, have reopened from June 7, when the relaxation was announced by the state government.

The restaurant industry has asked the government to provide relief measures.

“There is no reason for imposing restrictions on restaurant timings. If the restrictions are to continue, the state government should at least waive off the applicable statutory charges for restaurants. Most of Maharashtra’s neighbouring states have eased lockdown norms. Gujarat allows commercial establishments to remain open till 10 pm and has permitted social gatherings of up to 400 people and has also offered financial relief to businesses. Kerala, too, has announced industry-specific reliefs and is not collecting the statutory levies from its businesses apart from several relief measures to support its hospitality industry. Here, we neither have the permission to conduct business nor are we being compensated. We need a clear roadmap about how the government plans to support us to accordingly make informed decisions for our businesses,” said Pradeep Shetty, senior vice-president of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI).

There is no relief for theatres, drama theatres and multiplexes (independent and inside malls) as well as these will continue to remain closed until further orders. Also, all places of worship in the state will remain closed.

However, the city traders and shopkeepers have welcomed the lifting of timing restrictions. “We will ensure that our staff get fully vaccinated as soon as possible and Covid-appropriate behaviour is followed by all the shopkeepers,” said Viren Shah, president of the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association.

In Mumbai, malls have not been granted any concessions. However, the BMC has allowed indoor and outdoor sports barring the operation of swimming pools and other sporting activities involving close contact. It has also allowed film shootings in Mumbai in compliance with Covid norms and within prescribed timings.

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