The apex body of restaurants and hotels has launched a campaign to highlight their desperate bid for survival, at a time, when the state government has imposed strict restrictions on hotels amid the rise in COVID-19 cases across the state.
According to the state government’s 'Break The Chain' initiative, restaurants are to be totally shut except for take-away, parcels and food delivery between 7 am and 8 pm on weekdays and on weekends, with only food deliveries being allowed. Additionally, the State has mandated all food delivery personnel to be either vaccinated or undergo RT-PCR tests to test negative for COVID-19 at intervals of every 15 days.
Hospitality Associations across the State including the Federation of Hotels and Restaurants Association of India (FHRAI), Hotels and Restaurants Association of Western India (HRAWI), Indian Association of Hotel and Restaurants (AHAR) have formed United Hospitality Forum of Maharashtra (UHF) and have initiated campaign #MissionRoziRoti. Under this campaign, the hoteliers have organised a silent protest outside various renowned hotels and restaurants on Thursday (April 8) around 12:30 pm.
"The impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry has been extremely disruptive. Among all the core sectors of the economy, hospitality was the first one to fall and is going to be the last to recover, hence becoming the biggest casualty of the pandemic in the country," said Pradeep Shetty - joint secretary FHRAI.
Shetty said that over 20 per cent of hotels and restaurants haven’t opened fully after the lockdown, while the remaining 50 per cent continue to run in losses and revenue generation is below 50 per cent of the pre-COVID levels.
"Our businesses are under immense financial stress and the latest ‘Break The Chain’ order is equivalent to another complete lockdown," he added.
The Forum has stated that the latest Break The Chain guidelines have spelled a death knell for the industry. Repercussion to jobs, revenues and the spirit of enterprise is severe and irreversible, the Associations have pointed out.
"There are around 10,500 hotels and 210,000 restaurants in Maharashtra. The smallest of restaurants employ eight individuals whereas an average restaurant and hotel employs 20 to 30 heads which include waiters, cleaners and cooks, accountants, managers, delivery boys, security and gardeners," said Sherry Bhatia - president HRAWI.
Bhatia said of the total employee strength, 40 per cent of the employees belong from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).
“With no means to sustain another lockdown, we request that the Government completely waives off all statutory fees and taxes, and also remunerates Hospitality establishments, its owners, its employees and their families for the loss of incomes caused by the decision," said Shivanand Shetty, President, Ahar.