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Hotel and restaurant bodies think new MHA guidelines will provide much needed fillip


Hotel and restaurant bodies said the latest Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines which include their suggestions on lifting curbs on bars, increasing capacity limits for social gatherings and easing of inter state movement should provide the much needed fillip to the industry.

They expect many states to follow suit and relax existing restrictions. Pradeep Shetty, hononary secretary, Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) said the association is glad that the centre has taken into account their suggestions on doing away with curbs on bars and increasing capacity limits for gatherings, besides easing inter state movement.

Maharashtra may take time considering the continuing surge, but we think states like Delhi, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan can allow hospitality companies to restart operations in a full fledged manner outside containment zones,” Anurag Katriar, president, National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI).

“States cannot defy the centre. Point 4 of the new guidelines clearly implies no state can become a cowboy state. The economy is being shattered by mini lockdowns. We expect many states including Delhi to now allow bars to resume operations and relax restrictions for restaurants,” said Rahul Singh, founder and CEO of The Beer Cafe. Manu Chandra, chef partner for brands such as SodaBottleOpenerWala, Toast & Tonic, Fatty Bao and Monkey Bar said all this while, state governments and excise departments said they can’t be in violation of the MHA guidelines.

“The MHA guidelines had very categorically prohibited bars till Unlock 3.0. With Unlock 4.0, with the omission of the word bars, it opens up the avenue for states to now decide whether they want F&B outlets which have bar licenses to operate under localised guidelines that they set in,” he said.

“The coast is clear. I feel with enough safety protocols, the service of alcohol at tables is okay. It is a desperately needed revenue stream for the industry and for the state. How else will they make money,” he added. Besides lifting curbs on bars, which had continued till Unlock 3.0, the ceiling on marriage related gatherings, which have contributed to the revenues for hotels, has been extended upto 100 from September 21 from the existing 50. Other social and entertainment functions will be permitted with a ceiling of 100 with effect from September 21 with mandatory social distancing protocols. The guidelines also state there shall be no restriction on inter state and intra state movement of people and no separate permissions will be required for such movements.

“Many people have homes in the hills and due to restrictions on inter-state movement, they have not been able to head back home. While the centre has said there should not be any restrictions on inter state movement, we have a resort in Uttarakhand and we are waiting for a clarification from the state on matters like the PCR tests,” said Ankur Bhatia, executive director of Bird Group which owns Roseate Hotels & Resorts and is chairman for CII’s tourism committee for Northern India.

“There is definitely a surge in cases but this will definitely help. Right now, a lot of people are not heading to other states because of the fear that they will go through tests and will have to stay quarantined for longer periods. The directions to states are pretty clear. Now it is up to them,” he added. Manbeer Choudhary, president, Hotel & Restaurant Association of Haryana (HRAH) said as per the centre, the hospitality industry is open in all forms now with the doing away of bars in the list of prohibited activities. “This is a positive sign from the centre. We would like to think no state will defy the MHA guidelines,” he said.

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