India on Sunday crossed the critical mark of 1-lakh fresh Covid-19 cases reported on a single day for the first time since the onset of the pandemic last year. Maharashtra alone accounted for 57,074 new cases, its highest ever single-day spike. This has forced the government of Maharashtra to spring into action to curb the daily rise in Covid-19 cases and intensify the vaccination drive.
The government issued a long list of stringent guidelines late on Sunday to ‘Break the Chain’ (title of their new campaign). Along with night curfews on weekdays, the state will go into complete lockdown on weekends starting Friday 8 pm to Monday morning 7 am.
Maharashtra Lockdown Guidelines 2021:
- 01. All shops except essential services would remain shut till the end of the month
- 02. Restaurants will be allowed to operate only for takeaways and deliveries during the day
- 03. No gathering of five or more will be allowed during the day on weekdays
- 04. No religious, social, cultural, or political functions of any kind will be allowed
- 05. Public transport will operate at 50% capacity
- 06. Autos and taxis will be allowed to ply with just two passengers
- 07. No standing passengers allowed on buses and local trains
- 08. Gymnasiums, parlors and salons will remain shut
- 09. Theatres, cinema halls, malls, gardens and playgrounds will remain shut
- 10. Private offices other than the ones categorized as ‘essential services’ will have to compulsorily opt for ‘work from home’
Health minister Rajesh Tope said weddings can be held with 50 participants, however, a Rs 10,000 fine will be imposed if the norms are not followed. Also, only 20 people would be allowed to attend a funeral.
While the Maharashtra Chief Minister was insistent on a complete lockdown, the idea was met with stiff opposition from not just the BJP but also other alliance parties of Shiv Sena.
Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said: “The entire state had opposed a complete lockdown, but health experts cautioned us about the increasing number of Covid cases.”
A statement by NCP leader Nawab Malik, has sent the hospitality industry into a frenzy. After a cabinet meeting, Nawab Malik announced, “Malls, restaurants and bars will remain closed.” He added, only takeaway services will be permitted.
Hospitality industry to take a hit:
The second wave of Covid-19 has made stringent lockdown an inevitable choice for the Maharashtra government. However, the restaurant industry which was just getting back on its feet after suffering heavy losses in the last lockdown and burning capital to revive business despite the loss incurred is expected to take a bad hit again.
As per a report, 20% of the restaurants in multiple states had to shut shop permanently after the first lockdown. With fresh restrictions, the hospitality industry has found itself staring at another lockdown-like situation set to break the back of the business.
Financial Express had reached out to the stakeholders of multiple restaurants and hospitality chains to record their statement on the prevailing condition of the industry. Anees Khan, chef & founder of Mumbai-based Staranise Cafe & Patisserie informed that revenues were down by at least 20% at the last count and walk-ins have declined by over 30% since January, just when the businesses were starting to pick up after the 2020 slump.
AD Singh, founder & MD at Olive Group of Restaurants, which was forced to shut a few outlets last year, said the worst could be ahead. “We are hoping that we do not have to cut more jobs,” he added.
“More than 40% of the restaurants and other hospitality ventures had to shut down post the first lockdown. The proportion of fixed operating expenses by way of rentals, utility expenses and salaries is quite significant and with little or no revenues, it is getting very difficult for restaurants to survive,” informed Kartik Ganesh, brand manager at Pune-based pizzeria Circle Of Crust.
Restaurant owners worried, say businesses may shut down completely
Anurag Katriar, ED & CEO – deGustibus Hospitality P Ltd and the President of National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI) urged the state government to either relook the restrictions imposed on the hospitality sector or shut the F&B industry in the state completely. In a four-tweet-long thread, he said, “we are staring death and need some urgent oxygen. Either allow us to operate normal hours with safeguards & protocols. Or shut us down completely and compensate us, our employees, suppliers & landlords suitably. Dear Govt, u r (you are) a critical stakeholder in our trade and also the sole decision-maker so we leave this to your collective wisdom.”
Dear Maharashtra Govt,— Anurag Katriar (@KingKatriar) April 4, 2021
Please shut down the F&B biz in the state completely! This slow death is more excruciating.🙏
First, u shut us for dinner, which contributes 75% of our revenue. Now u r shutting us down on weekends which contributes 60% of our weekly business. 1/4
Katriar stated that the Maha government’s order to impose a night curfew from 8 pm will badly impact restaurants and eateries because dinner-time is when 75% of the business happens. Further weekends contribute to more than 60% of entire week’s businesses for eateries and restaurants. With night curfew every day, and weekend lockdown, the restaurants may as well shut their business, as the losses incurred will be unsustainable, said the businessman.