The Maharashtra government has extended the 10 pm deadline and allowed shops and restaurants to operate until midnight, citing the festive season and the need to avoid crowding during the limited hours.
The additional two hours will be of significant help in terms of overall recovery, said Anurag Katriar, president of the National Restaurant Association of India.
“Evening slot is key for the restaurant business as it contributes over 60 percent and the extra two hours in Maharashtra will be beneficial. The ongoing festive period is an added benefit,” Katriar said.
During the festive season, the real bump-up comes after Diwali and business is at its peak right up to January, he said.
“One of the bigger contributors is the Christmas break, when there’s traffic from the foreign crowd as well. Post-Dussehra, there is a bump-up of 15-20 percent in the restaurant business,” Katriar added.
Restaurant operators welcomed the move by the Maharashtra government as the state is a key market for the sector. There are an estimated 400,000 hotels and restaurants in Maharashtra. Mumbai, the state capital, is a key consumption centre, and along with New Delhi, constitutes about 25 per cent of the food services market.
Demand is coming back in terms of dining, with an increase in footfalls, especially over the weekends.
“With the 50 percent capacity restriction, the footfalls are high. We are at about 75-80 percent of pre-pandemic levels in terms of footfalls,” said Katriar.
However, some restaurant operators in the state want the timings to be extended further. According to them, for business to return to normal after getting hit hard due to the coronavirus outbreak, timings have to go back to regular hours of 1:30 am, especially with eateries continuing to operate with capacity limits.
Pradeep Shetty, senior VP of the Hotel & Restaurant Association of Western India, told a newspaper that while the move by the Maharashtra government will help the beleaguered hospitality sector, the association was hoping the extension would be granted till the pre-Covid deadline of 1:30 am.
An estimated 50 percent of the restaurants in Maharashtra have permanently shut down due to the impact of the pandemic.
Jubilant FoodWorks Ltd.
, the operator of fast-food chains Domino’s Pizza and Dunkin’ Donuts, closed 100 Domino’s Pizza outlets in the quarter ended September 2020. Five Dunkin’ Donuts stores were shut during the period.
Earlier this year, the Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India noted that the country’s hotel sector lost Rs 1.3 lakh crore in revenue in FY21 due to the impact of Covid-19.
While the hospitality business is still reeling under pandemic pressure, especially in terms of capacity limits, Katriar said the sector will see normalcy if the pandemic doesn’t throw up any more shocks.
“In terms of overall recovery, December is when we will see things coming back to absolute normal. This December will be as good as the pre-pandemic times,” he said.
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