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Let restaurants operate or compensate them: NRAI President

A day afterMaharashtrarestrictedrestaurantsand bars to operate for onlyhome deliveriesand takeaways till April 30 to help contain the Covid-19 pandemic, theNational Restaurant Association of India(NRAI) urged the state government to either allow the industry to operate for normal hours with safeguards and protocols or compensate its employees, suppliers and landlords “suitably” for the loss of business.

“We are very saddened with the new guidelines for the restaurant industry which for all practical purposes shut down the sector. To operate only with deliveries, that too up to 8 pm, makes no commercial sense at all,” said NRAI president Anurag Katriar.

“We were shut for most part of last year. We have been operating at 50% capacity and restricted hours since then. We had just about started seeing some respectable surge in consumption which prompted us to hire back our people and now we are left in a lurch,” he said. “These new guidelines, which prohibit dining completely and allow only deliveries till 8 pm are meaningless and totally unsustainable. It is like an excruciating and painful slow death for an erstwhile vibrant industry.”

Katriar said the Maharashtra government has asked the industry to pay the renewal fee for the liquor licence for 2021-22 by April 9 without any option of instalments.

“It is so sad and unfortunate that despite being the sector with an annual turnover of approximately 4 lakh crore, and contributing almost 2% of the gross GDP, we still haven’t been considered for any relief package from the government,” he said. “We are also very worried about the fate of 7.3 million employees in the F&B (food and beverages) sector. We don’t want them to suffer but unfortunately, we don’t have adequate resources to support them for long.”
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