-CB Edit Desk
The apex association of hotels and restaurants in the country – Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) in a letter to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has suggested making necessary changes in the vaccination guidelines to include banquet halls in hotels as venues for mass immunisation of corporate sector as reported by FnBnews.
FHRAI has stated that banquet halls in hotels are better equipped than schools, colleges, or community halls for the purpose. It further said that during the first lockdown many hotels were requisitioned by local authorities for accommodating doctors and medical workers and also for quarantining Covid patients and hence they are aware of all the safety protocols and are fully capable of conducting mass vaccination at their venues.
Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, vice president, FHRAI, said, “Our country is carrying out one of the world’s biggest vaccination drives. Time is of the essence and the quicker we manage to vaccinate the entire population, the better it will be for the nation. The availability of vaccines is anticipated to only increase from here during which safe and controlled environments will be required to accommodate and vaccinate citizens. Banquet halls in hotels offer just the right kind of venue that will facilitate and expedite the vaccination drive. We request the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to consider our suggestion and make necessary changes in the vaccination guidelines to include banquet halls in hotels as venues for mass immunisation of corporates.”
The Indian hotel industry’s total revenue fell roughly 75 per cent in the last financial year. The industry has taken a revenue hit of close to Rs 1.30 lakh crore in FY 2020-21 which in FY 2019-20 stood at Rs 1.82 lakh crore. The hospitality industry’s revenue at the beginning of 2021 was below 20 per cent of pre-pandemic levels and since April 2021 the revenue hasn’t even crossed 5 per cent. Engulfed in massive losses and mounting debts due to the pandemic, the hospitality sector in the country is undergoing a very gloomy economic situation.
“Hotels have been at the frontline and have been serving doctors and other health workers since the first lockdown and are fully aware of operating with the required safety guidelines. The financial repercussion of the lockdown has dealt a severe blow to the industry. We were the first sector to be affected by the pandemic and will be the last to revive. The hospitality sector in the country is waging a battle for its existence today. Under these extra ordinary circumstances, we are hoping that Government could extend its support by allowing us to open banquet venues for mass vaccination. This will give our industry some source of revenue while contributing to the nation in its vaccination drive. The hospitality industry is committed to follow all the health and safety protocols issued by Government and it has our unwavering support in its efforts to combat the present pandemic,” concluded Kohli.
The FHRAI has expressed regret with reference to some hotels letting out premises to private hospitals for mass immunisation programmes for corporates. It has advised all its member hotels to not indulge in any such endeavour that contravenes the National Covid-19 Vaccination Guidelines.