Restaurant owners told the Center of ad hoc state-level brakes disrupting business

The restaurant industry wrote to the center Thursday evening, asking for instructions from states to impose additional restrictions based on hospitalization data, allow food deliveries without harassment from the fleet as food delivery is a service essential under the law, and permission to operate longer hours to reduce overcrowding.

Restaurateurs said in the letter that ad hoc state-level restrictions are severely disrupting operations and deliveries.

The letter, signed by Kabir Suri, co-founder of Azure Hospitality which operates Mamagoto and Foxtrot, and president of the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), the operator of Domino’s Jubilant FoodWorks CEO Pratik Pota and the director of Big Chill Cafe Aseem Grover, among others, addresses Ajay Bhalla, Home Secretary, Home Office. The same letter was also sent to Prime Minister Modi’s office.

“Most state governments issue orders introducing curfews, local closures and various restrictions on the industry. In addition, ad hoc or arbitrary actions taken by local authorities in all states are forcing closures and preventing the delivery of food, causing serious business disruption, ”said the letter, a copy of which ET viewed.

More than 25% of the restaurant industry has closed permanently, resulting in the loss of jobs for 25 lakhs since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The letter adds that the industry has continued to operate at 50% capacity over the past two waves, although other activities such as public transport, subways and airlines are allowed to operate at full capacity. “It is evident that due to the above factors, the government has also decided to allow other activities such as elections and related political rallies,” the letter said.

Numerous studies and government announcements have indicated that patients in the current wave of the omicron-dominated virus are much less likely to experience severe illness and be hospitalized than patients in the delta-dominated wave.

“It is therefore necessary to review the latest round of restrictions and curfews,” Suri said.

The industry has suffered the uproar of the last two waves mainly on deliveries. On New Years Eve, aggregators Zomato and Swiggy reported a record number of food deliveries. Zomato said it reached 2.5 million orders for the first time in one day, while Swiggy crossed 2 million orders.

The restaurant industry, with an annual turnover of Rs 4 lakh crore, provides direct employment to more than 7 million Indians, according to the letter, which adds that the NRAI represents more than five lakh members.

“We understand that preventing the spread of the virus is the government’s top priority. In doing so, however, the restaurant industry appears to have been distinguished by strict restrictions, compared to other sectors, ”the letter added.

The letter says the industry is committed to following all Covid protocols and called for instructions to be given to states for swift implementation.

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