You will now be able to dine-in at restaurants in Maharashtra as the state government has finally allowed owners to resume services from the first week of October. By Tanvi Jain
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In a recent meeting with a delegation of restaurant owners from Pune, along with Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte and Excise Secretary Valsa Nair Singh, and also owners from Mumbai and Nagpur, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray promised them to soon issue a new set of SOPs allowing resumption of dine-in services at restaurants, from the first week of October, but with 50 per cent capacity in order to maintain social distancing.
“The state government has prepared guidelines for starting the restaurant and has sent them to the concerned. After its finalisation, a decision will be taken to start the restaurant, said Chief Minister Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray while discussing with the representatives of restaurant business associations in the state,” CMO Maharashtra tweeted.
“We had a fruitful meeting with CM Uddhav Thackeray and his team about reopening of dine-in facility at the restaurants. The CM has assured us that the restaurant will be allowed to provide the service from October first week. He has asked us to ensure that the standard operating procedure (SOP) required to be followed by the restaurants are strictly being adhered to and safety of the patrons is not compromised,” Ganesh Shetty, President of Pune Restaurant and Hoteliers’ Association (PRAHA), told Indian Express.
The decision comes nearly two-and-a-half months after the government had first allowed restaurants to reopen but only for takeaways and home deliveries, not dine-in services. However, considering the downfall of the hospitality business due to COVID-19-induced lockdown, the government finally took note of a letter written by the restaurant owners’ association, mentioning that if the ban prevails, they’ll have to permanently pull down the shutters. As per reports, they also argued that, if the government has already allowed state and city transport buses to operate with full capacity then such restrictions on restaurants don’t make sense, especially when the owners have assured proper social distancing and sanitisation measures.
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Although, the restaurant owners were a bit relieved to finally reopen businesses, but were apprehensive as to how fruitful it will prove to their business, as now they will be able to accommodate only half the customers. In fact, another concern they have is that the prevailing fear of outbreak among people, which might further affect the footfall. Moreover, another factor is that most of the migrant workers have left town, and others who live in the suburbs are not allowed to take the suburban train.
Meanwhile, Shetty further informed of the CM’s decision to revise the state excise license fee, for restro-bar owners. “He has promised us that the excise license fee will be revised on pro-rata basis against the balance operational months of the current year,” he told Indian Express. Amid losses incurred during the pandemic, many restro-bar owners were not willing to pay the annual excise license renewal fee.