Restaurants’ body urges Centre to direct states to consider food delivery an essential service

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani | | | Updated on: Jan 07, 2022
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In a letter to the PM, the Association head has sought longer operating hours to avoid over-crowding

The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) has urged the Prime Minister to issue directions to states to permit restaurants to operate for longer hours to avoid over-crowding and allow food delivery as part of essential services.

This comes as several states have imposed restrictions, including night and weekend curfews, to tackle the rising number of Covid cases amidst the Omicron spread. The industry body said states are imposing ad-hoc restrictions on the industry and disrupting business already hit hard by the pandemic.

NRAI President Kabir Suri said in the letter, “ while we all sincerely hope for a quick normalisation of the situation, we would like to state that the food service industry, already battling tough times for the past couple of years, is now facing a challenge for survival. More than 25 per cent of the industry has shut down permanently, leading to loss of jobs for 25 lakh workers.”

The industry body said while it understands that preventing the spread of the virus is the top priority of the government, it added that ,”the restaurant industry seems to have been singled out to be on the receiving end of the most stringent restrictions as compared to all other sectors/ activities.”

NRAI raised concerns that the state governments were issuing orders by introducing curfews, local lockdowns and various restrictions on the industry. “In addition, ad hoc/arbitrary actions taken by local authorities across all states in forcing closures and preventing food delivery is leading to severe business disruptions,” it added.

The industry body said while the restaurants are operating at 50 per cent capacity, other activities like public transportation/ metros/ airlines are being permitted to operate at full capacity.

“ It is evident that due to the above factors, the government has also decided to allow other activities like elections and related political rallies,” NRAI added. NRAI has urged the Prime Minister to issue suitable directions to the States to consider hospitalisation data to determine imposition of further restrictions.

“Permit longer operating hours for the industry, since it will reduce over-crowding, and also prevent further job loss for millions of workers.,” NRAI said. It has also asked that directions should be given to all states to permit delivery of food from restaurants as part of essential services, as has already been clarified by MHA vide its SOP for maintaining supply of essential goods dated 26th March 2020.

Published on January 07, 2022

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