Even as the industry rejoices reopening of restaurants and bars in Maharashtra on Monday, the difficulty over staff mobility, as the lockdown continues till the end of the month, funds and maintenance issues are expected to make it a gradual process over the month, the industry said.
"The option to re-open restaurants comes as a big relief to restaurateurs. Although, it is a good development, not all restaurants are geared up to re-open immediately. We expect only around 30 per cent of the restaurants to open starting Monday and the rest will re-open gradually through the month," Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) senior vice-president Pradeep Shetty said in a statement.
He said Mumbai restaurants are allowed to operate with only 33 per cent capacity and a lot of them are facing shortage of staff due to the problem of mobility.
"Also, restaurants were shut completely for over six months so, therefore, interiors and other premises may need some renovation or maintenance. There is also the problem of finance. Over the last six months, restaurants had to dip into their savings for salary and utility payments," Shetty added.
Echoing the view, Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR) president Shivanand Shetty said customers were supportive and patient as the standard operating procedures (SOP) were carried out to ensure their, as well as the staff's safety.
"We are overwhelmed by the support extended by our customers who chose to step out and gave us a chance to serve them again after a long time. As expected only 30-35 per cent restaurants reopened with most of them with only 30-40 per cent staff, limited menus, reduced timings, but we are hopeful that in 15 days things would be back to normal," he said.
All restaurant owners, who re-opened their properties for business, ensured compliance of the SOPs in maintaining temperature checking, social distancing, wearing of masks, noting down customer contact details among others.
"We are thankful to the state government for this day and look forward to more support to help us get back on track," Shetty added.
On September 30, the Maharashtra government issued guidelines that allowed further relaxations outside containment zones, while extending the lockdown in the state till end of October.
The state government guidelines hotels, food, restaurants and bars were allowed to operate from October 5, with capacity not exceeding 50 per cent of the total staff.