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Those who got left behind: How do we survive with such timings, ask Mumbai restaurant owners



Restaurateurs, mall owners join humble Mumbai commuter in publicly raising the banner of protest against government for what they call ad hoc curbs on industry.

With Mumbai’s test positivity rate (TPR) for the past week being around 1.76 per cent and the oxygenated bed occupancy at around 18.97 per cent, the BMC has allowed some relaxation but malls and restaurants have again been left out. This has led to criticism from all corners, with restaurateurs demanding compensation.

Restaurant associations and restaurateurs have taken to social media to make the government hear their side. According to them, Maharashtra’s restaurants have been shut for 258 days out of the 497 days since the first lockdown, and there has been no relief yet. Mall owners are angry as they have not been allowed to open despite the go-ahead from the state government.

Restaurateurs have demanded compensations and extended timings, especially in the evening. Some have said if the government is adamant about having them operate for fewer hours, then these hours should be allotted in the evening.

A deserted Phoenix mall, Lower Parel, in March. File Pics

Malls owners say that they have incurred losses worth Rs 4,000 crore across the state almost every month and job losses, too, have been tremendous.

Kalathur Vishwanath Shetty, president, Rashtriya Hotel Kamgar Union and a hotelier from Andheri West, said, “We need our share of compensation. If relief isn’t given soon, we won’t shy away from protesting outside Matoshree. We are living in dire times where our people are committing suicide due to debts and it is high time that we are allowed to operate as per the timings on our licence.”

Chairman of Shopping Centres Association of India, who is also the CEO of Infiniti Mall, Mukesh Kumar, said, “We are in shock with the BMC not allowing us to open. We will soon visit the government to raise our concerns. We have been following protocols and also maintain live data of how many people are inside the mall at a given time, thus ensuring there are no crowds. We did this the last time we were allowed to open. We have been shut since March-end and yet there is no respite from property tax or other expenditures.”

A restaurant in Mahim was sealed in April after 12 of its staff tested positive amid the second Covid wave. File pic

Restaurateurs on Twitter
“How does an Industry survive if it is kept shut for almost 52% of the time? During balance period, we worked for limited hours with 33% to 50% of our capacity! #SaveTheRestaurants #IndustryInDespair,” tweeted Anurag Katriar, the president of the National Restaurants Association India. “If curtailed hours contains the spread of coronavirus (not sure how!) then best decision for restaurant will be to at least make timings 4 – 11 pm than 11-4. There will still be some hope of survival,” tweeted Amin Ali.

258 – No. of days restaurants have been shut in the last 497 days

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