COVID-19 in Mumbai: Members of hospitality sector hold mass protest across Maharashtra against new restrictions

On Thursday, members of the hospitality sector held a silent demonstration across the state to protest against the state government's recent Break The Chain order. The new directives include restrictions on the hospitality sector to curb the spread of COVID-19.

As a part of the protest, the employees of restaurants and hotels stood silently outside their establishments at 12:30 pm sharp and held placards. Associations said that the demonstration was carried out simultaneously at all the hotels in Maharashtra during the said time.

Earlier, on Wednesday, the hospitality associations across the state, including the Federation of Hotels and Restaurants Association of India (FHRAI), Hotels and Restaurants Association of Western India (HRAWI) and Indian Association of Hotels and Restaurants (AHAR), formed the United Hospitality Forum of Maharashtra (UHF) as part of which they had launched #MissionRoziRoti campaign in order to highlight their desperate bid of survival.

The forum has stated that the latest Break The Chain guidelines have spelled a death knell for the industry. The repercussion to jobs, revenue and the spirit of enterprise is severe and irreversible, it pointed out. "Through our silent protests today, we have requested the government to allow us to resume our work. If not, the government must take care of our income. The industry should get a complete waiver on all statutory fees and taxes, and establishments should not be billed for water and electricity for the duration of the curbs,” said Sherry Bhatia, president HRAWI.

Bhatia added that, with the fear of losing jobs like last year, many workers have begun to leave for their homes again. "After last year’s lockdown, the hospitality industry is in a turmoil and is just not in a position to bear any more losses," Bhatia said.

Pradeep Shetty, joint secretary of FHRAI, said that the industry has lost all its business after the first lockdown. And, there was no business for a period of 10 months. However, he said that the rental obligations, salary expenses, servicing of debts and statutory were in effect.

"Today, 30 per cent of the hotels and restaurants in the country have shut down permanently and over 20 per cent of the hotels and restaurants haven’t opened fully after the lockdown. The remaining 50 per cent continue to run in losses and revenue is below 50 per cent of the pre-COVID-19 levels," said Shetty.

"Our businesses are under immense financial stress and the latest Break The Chain order is equivalent to another complete lockdown. We assure the government that the industry is committed to following all the health and safety protocols and has our unwavering support towards the various efforts to combat the pandemic," Shetty pointed out.

Meanwhile, the associations of traders and businessmen continued to hit the roads on Thursday to protest against the mini lockdown. In Borivali, members of Yuva Vyapar Mandal held a similar demonstration.

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