With the Delhi government on Monday ordering restaurants to shut down dine-in facilities, industry players said the new guidelines are “unsustainable” and will be like a ‘painful slow” death for the hard-hit sector. In a statement, Kabir Suri, President, National Restaurant Association of India, said the new guidelines will adversely impact over 95,000 organised and unorganised eateries in the city.

He added that the fate of over 3.01 lakh people employed by Delhi restaurants also hangs in the balance as the restaurant operators do not have adequate resources to support them for long.

“There are about 95,187 eateries in Delhi both organised and unorganised. Of this, 32,777 are organised restaurants (with FSSAI number and GST). While the unorganised will also face the brunt of these new guidelines, the organised segment will bear the real brunt, as they have a complete chain/employees, government taxes, suppliers, etc. and revenue generated per year from organised restaurants in Delhi is Rs 31,132 crore,” he said.

The Delhi government has allowed restaurants to operate “take-away” services. But the industry body pointed out that while the dine-out frequency in Delhi is6 times per month, compared to the national average of 4.5 times per month,the contribution of takeaway/delivery services is “meagre.”

Suri said right from the onset of the pandemic, the restaurant industry has been the worst-hit as the sector was among the first to shut down, but the last to open in the first and second pandemic wave. “I reckon that this third wave is going to be even worse than last year. We have somehow survived so far, but with the new guidelines announced today in Delhi, it seems highly unlikely that we can sustain any longer,” he added.

“We were shut for most part of last year. We have been operating at 50 per cent and restricted hours since then. We had just about started seeing a respectable surge in consumption, which prompted us to hire back our people and now we are left in the lurch. These new guidelines, which prohibits dining completely and allows only deliveries, is completely unsustainable. It is like an excruciating and painful slow death for an erstwhile vibrant industry,” Suri said.

The industry body said that due to pandemic restrictions, over 25 per cent of the restaurants had to permanently shutdown across the country last year, and the new guidelines are going to be even further detrimental for the industry. It also expressed disappointment on being singled out and asked to shut down while other activities like airlines, public transport, markets, gyms, yoga institutes, construction projects, etc, continued to function.

“We need some urgent oxygen for our survival. I urge the Delhi Government to either allow us to operate normal hours with safeguards and protocols or compensate us, our employees, suppliers & landlords suitably for the loss of business arising out of the lockdown,” Suri added.