Mumbai's dine-in services to resume in October after a gap of 6 months

Last month, the state government allowed hotels to reopen with full capacity, allowing restaurants within these properties to operate only for in-house guests.
After a gap of six months, Mumbaikars will be able to plan an outing to their restaurant of choice, with mask and sanitiser in tow. In a virtual meeting on Monday with restaurant bodies, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that dine-in services could resume from the first week of October.

"This is a relief and we thank the chief minister for allowing restaurants in the state to reopen," Riyaaz Amlani, CEO, Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality, and a member of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), said. NRAI along with other restaurant bodies had made representations to the state government over the last few months, asking it to reconsider its position.

Most states have reopened restaurants barring Maharashtra, which had resisted dine-in services so far, owing to the growing number of Covid-19 cases in the state.

At the meeting with restaurant bodies, Thackeray unveiled guidelines to be followed by eateries once they reopen in October. These included maintaining a distance of one metre between tables and strict hygiene standards in the kitchen and dine-in areas.

The one-metre guideline will mean that 50 per cent capacity will be permitted within eateries in line with what restaurant bodies have been demanding.

"Dine-in services have not been allowed for the last six months. If restaurants have to reopen, they have has to start with 50 per cent capacity at least," Kalathur Vishwanath J Shetty, president, Maharashtra Rastrawadi Hotel Kamghar Union, said.
Last month, the state government allowed hotels to reopen with full capacity, allowing restaurants within these properties to operate only for in-house guests.

The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI), whose representatives were also present at the meeting on Monday, said that the chief minister had agreed to consider a waiver of excise license fees for the duration that eateries were shut.

"Also, the deadline for deferment of payment towards the first installment of the excise license fee has been extended to September 30," said Sherry Bhatia, president, HRAWI.

Mumbai is a key consumption centre, along with Delhi, constituting nearly 25 per cent of the food services market, say industry experts. Metros such as Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Ahmedabad make up another 20 per cent of the food services market.

A recent report by the NRAI said that a third of eateries and bars had shut permanently between April and August in the country, due to the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown.

Nearly 60 per cent of the total restaurant market in India remains unorganised, while 40 per cent is organised. Though store closures have been rampant in the unorganised market, since the lockdown began in March, organised players are now shutting unprofitable outlets.


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