Hospitality Industry Calls Latest Covid-19 Curbs in Maha Death Knell For Sector

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Members of hospitality industry decided to hold a silent protest outside all hotels and restaurants across Maharashtra against the Uddhav Thackeray-led government’s directive to shut all outlets selling non-essential commodities and services till April 30 amid rise in COVID-19 cases.

This comes at a time when the traders’ body, Chamber of Associations of Maharashtra Industry & Trade, urged all business establishments to hold their stir for the day as it is hopeful of a positive outcome following a meeting with Thackeray over the issue and some relaxations.

Stakeholders said the latest restrictions have put the final nail in the coffin for the already failing hospitality sector in the state. As part of the government’s ‘Break The Chain’ order, restaurants would have to remain shut completely shut except for take-aways, parcels and food deliveries between 7am and 8pm on weekdays, while on weekends, only food deliveries would be allowed. The government has mandated all food delivery personnel to be either vaccinated or undergo RT-PCR tests to test negative for COVID-19 after every 15 days.

The United Hospitality Forum of Maharashtra (UHF) formed recently by stakeholders has initiated a campaign ‘ Mission Rozi Roti’ to highlight their struggles and as part of the drive it has decided to hold the silent protest.

Association member said hotels and restaurants are already in deep financial trouble and without the government's consideration, the industry would be staring at a catastrophe. "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. The industry had lost all its business after the lockdown came into effect and the scenario remained that way for months during last year. However, obligations of the establishments, including rental and salary expenses, servicing of debts and statutory payments continued all through this period. This led to mounting debts and threats of insolvency for a majority in the sector along with millions of job losses,” the forum said in a statement.

“As of today, 30 per cent of the hotels and restaurants in the country have shut down permanently due to financial losses. Over 20 per cent of hotels and restaurants have not opened fully after the lockdown. The remaining 50 per cent continue to run in losses and revenues are below 50 per cent of the pre-COVID levels.”

Assuring the government of following all health and safety protocols to combat the pandemic, the forum urged the authorities to look into their concerns.

“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 a member. “We request the government to either allow us to continue operating until 12am with the mandated SOPs or permanently shut us down, rather than keep us half alive and in a state of misery,” he added.

(With PTI inputs)

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