National Restaurant Association of India on Monday said the new DDMA guidelines that prohibit dining in restaurants in the National Capital while allowing only deliveries are completely unsustainable and asked the state government to compensate for the loss of business.
Stating that with the latest order by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), it is unlikely that restaurants can sustain any longer, the restaurant’s body said it is very worried about the fate of over 3 lakh people employed in Delhi restaurants.
In a statement, NRAI President Kabir Suri said right from the onset of COVID-19, the restaurant sector has been one of the worst-hit. It was the first one to be shut and almost the last one to restart during the first and second lockdowns. The restaurants have been operating at 50 per cent and restricted hours since then.
“…I reckon that this third wave is going to be even worse than last year. We somehow survived so far, but with the new guidelines announced today in Delhi it seems highly unlikely that we can sustain any longer,” he said.
The DDMA on Monday suspended dine-in facilities at restaurants and closed bars in view of the rising COVID cases in the city, but decided against imposing a full lockdown yet.
Reacting to it, Suri said, “These new guidelines, which prohibits dining completely and allows only deliveries, is completely unsustainable. It is like an excruciating and painful slow death for an erstwhile vibrant industry”.
Pleading that the sector “need some urgent oxygen for our survival”, he said, “I urge the Delhi government to either allow us to operate normal hours with safeguards and protocols or compensate us, our employees, suppliers and landlords suitably for the loss of business arising out of the lockdown”.
Further, Suri said, “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…We are also very worried about the fate of 3,01,715 people employed in Delhi Restaurants. We don’t want them to suffer but unfortunately, we don’t have adequate resources to support them for long”.
Over 25 per cent of restaurants were shut last year and more than 24 lakh people lost their jobs nationally, he added.
According to him, there are about 95,187 eateries in Delhi between organised and unorganised. Out of this 32,777 are organised restaurants (with FSSAI number and GST). Revenue generated per year from organised restaurants in Delhi is Rs 31,132 crore.
The unorganised will also take the brunt of these new guidelines, but the real brunt will be borne by the organised segment as they have a complete chain/employees, government taxes and suppliers, he added.
“Also, dine-out frequency in Delhi is maximum, 6 times per month compared to the national average of 4.5 times per month whereas takeaway/ delivery is meagre. All of this is going to be a standstill once again,” Suri lamented.
Stressing that the new guidelines are going to be even further detrimental for the industry, he said, “…despite all the facts, it is very sad and disheartening to see that our industry is the only sector which has been singled out every time.
“We are one of those sectors that always work in a safe closed environment with all the safety protocols in place but being asked to shut down while some other activities like airlines, public transport, markets, gyms, Yoga institutes, construction projects etc continue to function”.