Maharashtra night curfew dampens year-end hospitality cheer

Just a week ago the restaurant association had written to the Government requesting for restaurants to be allowed to operate for an additional two hours for the month so that they could earn some revenue

December 22, 2020 / 03:36 PM IST
Q1. It was originally started in 1940 and ran successfully till it was closed for a few years during the Indo-China War. Chen re-opened it, joining hands with a partner Tham Mouyiu, in 1968, and is actively involved in the day-to-day operations of running the restaurant. The restaurant runs solely on word-of-mouth publicity of its loyal patrons which include Bollywood royalty from Shashi Kapoor to Rekha and Kajol , to the who is who of politics including VK Krishna Menon. One of the most unusual gues was Deng Pufang the paraplegic first son of the Chinese premier Deng Xiaoping. Identify this legendary Mumbai establishment which recently shut shop. (Representative image)

Q1. It was originally started in 1940 and ran successfully till it was closed for a few years during the Indo-China War. Chen re-opened it, joining hands with a partner Tham Mouyiu, in 1968, and is actively involved in the day-to-day operations of running the restaurant. The restaurant runs solely on word-of-mouth publicity of its loyal patrons which include Bollywood royalty from Shashi Kapoor to Rekha and Kajol , to the who is who of politics including VK Krishna Menon. One of the most unusual gues was Deng Pufang the paraplegic first son of the Chinese premier Deng Xiaoping. Identify this legendary Mumbai establishment which recently shut shop. (Representative image)

Just when it seemed things were taking a turn for the better, the hospitality industry has been hit by a sidewinder. The Maharashtra government’s decision to impose a night curfew in the state has put paid to any chances that the sector had of earning some revenue from year-end celebrations.

The hospitality industry – among the hardest hit by the lockdown as people preferred home-cooked meals and put off outings – is slowly getting back on its feet, and was hoping to ring in good times with the New Year. The unexpected ban, following India’s decision to suspend flights to and from the UK after the emergence of a variant strain of the coronavirus, has certainly dampened the mood.

“The hospitality industry is completely shattered with the State government’s decision of enforcing a night curfew. Our industry has been severely affected and this move will further add to our woes,” Pradeep Shetty, Senior Vice President, HRAWI (Hotel and Restaurant Association (Western India)) told Moneycontrol.

Just a week ago the restaurant association had written to the government seeking permission to operate restaurants for an additional two hours for the month so that they could earn some revenue.

Shetty said allowing restaurants to operate for two hours beyond the existing closing time of 11:30 pm would help the industry generate anywhere between Rs 50 crore to Rs 75 crore per day. This would also boost revenues for the State by at least 30 percent, he added.

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Shetty, who is also the owner of Maharaja Foods Restaurant was counting on the year-end to bring in some business, but these hopes have now been stymied.

December is considered a good month for business in the hospitality industry as people loosen their pockets for Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Another restaurant owner, Piyush Rathi, who runs restaurants under the banner Vishal Restaurant, Gaurav Restaurant, Prem Residency and Prem Thali in the Vidarbha region, was hoping that December 31st being a Thursday, clubbed with the extended weekend, would help recover some revenues.

In fact, Rathi had already booked a music band for the New Year’s celebration at his restaurant and paid in advance.

“I had booked a music band for New Year's and we had also got advance booking of customers for December 31, but this night curfew has ruined it all,” a dejected Rathi said.

Tejinder Singh Renu, President of Nagpur Residential Hotels, added that nobody other than the hotel industry would be affected much by the night curfew.

“We are already facing a severe crisis due to the lockdown. Our business is totally down and we were expecting some revenue from New Year parties. In fact, we were planning to meet the district collector and request him to allow a night-long party on December 31, but now it is out of the question,” he added.

The country’s hospitality sector suffered huge damage due to the unprecedented crisis caused by Covid-19. Zero business during the last seven months, negative cash flows, threats of insolvency, and millions of job losses devastated the sector.

Hotels and restaurants in cities like Mumbai, Pune, Nashik had permission to operate until 11:30 pm and only Nagpur had permission to stay open till 10 pm.

Some restaurant owners had already recruited new staff for the last few days of the month, but with the curfew in place restaurant owners will be forced to take an unwanted decision about the staff.

The Maharashtra government on December 21 announced a night curfew in all of the state's major cities from 11 pm to 6 am beginning December 22 till January 5 after a coronavirus mutation in the UK.

Additionally, the government has also decided to conduct institutional quarantine for 14 days for passengers arriving from Europe and the Middle East. The state government will also home-quarantine those who are landing in Mumbai from other countries.

“Many hotels and restaurants have had to shut down due to the losses during the lockdown. Those which have reopened are in survival mode,” said Shivanand Shetty, President of the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR).

Members of the hotel association said this decision of the government will shift the partying  crowd to resorts and villas where the night curfew will not apply.
Himadri Buch
first published: Dec 22, 2020 03:36 pm

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