Maharashtra restaurants likely to reopen from first week of October
Restaurants in the state are likely to begin their operations from the first week of October as the state government has assured hoteliers during their meeting with chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday of receiving the requisite permissions. The state government has prepared a Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) for the restaurants, which is expected to be finalised in the next few days.
The state government is preparing a draft SOP in consultation with various associations representing hotels and restaurants and it is expected to be finalised soon. Valsa R Nair Singh, principal secretary, tourism department, said that they have been allowed to reopen restaurants from the first week of October. “The SOP is yet to be finalised,” she said.
The state government is expected to extend the ongoing lockdown by another month, though certain restrictions are expected to be lifted under Mission Begin Again. The restaurants are expected to be asked to maintain a distance of 6 feet between two tables and follow personal hygiene protocols. Hoteliers have opposed the idea of imposing a cap on the capacity to operate at.
“The decision will be taken once the SOP is finalised mutually. We are not against opening up activities, but in the wake of the rising number of cases, we are treading very cautiously. The restrictions have been imposed in the public interest despite huge losses of revenue to the state exchequer. It will be the responsibility of the restaurant and hotel operators to ensure safety of the customers and staff members in the wake of the pandemic,” chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has been quoted in a statement issued by his office.
The Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR) called it a huge relief to the restaurant sector. “The whole sector is in deep crisis as the takeaway business is not at all profitable. We know that the next six months will be very difficult but then we needed to start somewhere,” said AHAR president Shivanand Shetty.
Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, the former president of Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI), echoed the sentiment. He said that social distancing and other norms will impact the whole business. “We have no choice but to adhere to the norms. This reopening will generate some revenue so we can pay the staff as well as keep the business moving,“ said Kohli.
Kohli said that 0.12 million restaurants and hotels in Mumbai and about 2.2 lakh in Maharashtra can now open their shutters. He said at national level the hotel and restaurant industry has suffered losses of about Rs 1.90 lakh crore in last six months of lockdown.