Good News! Mumbaikars can now wine and dine till 1.30 am

Sanjay JogUpdated: Saturday, March 05, 2022, 10:45 PM IST
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Good News! Mumbaikars can now wine and dine till 1.30 am | Photo: Pexels

Mumbai: After almost 708 days, restaurants in 14 districts in the state, including Mumbai, began operating as per their pre-pandemic schedules, at 100 per cent capacity starting from Friday. What this means is that people in the city can resume wining and dining till 1.30am, as was their wont before Covid struck.

While the hospitality industry has hailed the state government’s move to lift restrictions and thereby give a push to economic activity, it wants more and has made a strong case for relaxation in the remaining districts too. The Thane district collector has relaxed curbs in Thane and Navi Mumbai since Friday enabling hotels and restaurants to operate at 100 per cent capacity, till 1.30 am.

“While this is a big relief for restaurants in these districts, the remaining restaurants in the state continue to suffer. Not only are these restaurants continuing to operate at 50 per cent capacity but also, timing restrictions for those in the remaining 22 districts have not been lifted. Also, the MICE segment across hotels and independent venues has taken a major beating for the last couple of years. All kinds of events and social gatherings should now be allowed at full capacity as it was prior to March 2020. The hospitality industry needs this urgently,” said the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) senior vice president Pradeep Shetty.

Shetty pleaded that the state should now do everything it could to restore confidence amongst its citizens and businesses. “We request the government to restore normal timings as well as allow all hotels and restaurants to operate at 100 per cent capacity across all the districts in the state,” he said.

According to the Indian Hotel & Restaurant Association (AHAR), the new guidelines will be beneficial for establishments in 14 districts but the rest will continue to unnecessarily bear the brunt for no fault of theirs, as authorities have been found wanting in meeting the vaccination target. “We are yet to hear from the state government on our request for a 50 per cent waiver in licence fees and hope it gets approved, as the industry really needs government support,” said AHAR President Shivanand Shetty.

Further, according to the Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India vice president Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, non-uniform guidelines across districts were a cause of concern not just for the hospitality industry but also for travellers. “The government will now need to lift all restrictions across the state and country and allow businesses and life to return to that in pre-pandemic times. We request both the state and the Central governments to bring back regularity and uniformity in operations to encourage and promote travel, so that the wheels of the doomed hospitality industry can start to move again,” he said.

The National Restaurant Association of India head for Mumbai, Pranav Rungta, said the state government’s decision was a big positive for the industry as it has opened up now. “In the future, there should be continuity and the policy should not be changed midway again. The hospitality industry has to recoup its past losses. The industry does not need fiscal support from the government but wants policy support,” he added.

The state government’s move is important because earlier, when pandemic curbs were in effect, first, hotels and restaurants were closed for 81 days; then for 48 days they were allowed to operate until 4pm, for 82 days they were allowed to function until 10pm at 50 per cent capacity and for 66 days they were allowed to function until 12am. Effectively, this meant restaurants and bars were fully operational as per licensed timings for only 15 days of 324 days in 2021-22.

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