Avoid Harassing Hospitality Sector Workers During Curfew: NRAI To Delhi Govt

-Press Release

The decision by the Delhi Government to impose a weekend lockdown and weekday night curfew directly result from the growing caseload and perhaps the advent of the second surge of COVID. Unfortunately, this brings us to square one; the same place we were standing aimlessly a year ago at the peak of the pandemic. Once again, our restaurants are relegated to being delivery kitchens, a sense of pessimism has replaced our short-lived optimism and we are once again back at fighting for our mere survival.

Mr Anurag Katriar, President of NRAI

This is the most unfortunate situation; we could have ever witnessed. The sudden second surge of COVID has brought us to square one; the same place we were standing aimlessly a year ago at the peak of the pandemic. As far as our Restaurant Industry is concerned, these new curfew regulations don’t change the status quo for us. Our dine-in business was shut until the 30th of April under the night curfew regulations and only home deliveries were permitted, and these conditions remain unchanged now under the curfew.

As partners with the Delhi Government in this fight against the pandemic, we once again request the Government to smoothen and expedite the process to issue e-passes for our teams. We are sure that clear directions to the law enforcing agencies will ensure that our workers, who are also frontline warriors, are not subjected to any undue harassment by the law-enforcing authorities. Home deliveries, which is just a minuscule part of our overall business, are currently the only business avenue available to us and therefore very critical. We are sure that the Government of Delhi is aware of this and will do what is needed to protect the interests of our beleaguered fraternity.

Hospitality has been one of the most affected sectors because of the pandemic. We were closed most of last year. We opened up gradually with restricted capacities and curtailed operating hours and fought hard to regain some of our lost vibrancy. Just when things were looking up, this second wave has come as a massive dampener and has undone whatever small gains we had made. As per the new notification, we are supposed to keep shut our primary activity, i.e., dining in, and just operate the ancillary activity home deliveries for prescribed hours. This is not a sustainable model for restaurants, pubs, bars and casual diners. Similarly, a cap of 50 people for wedding & parties renders the catering segment financially untenable. This directive will only provide marginal help to the cloud kitchen segment.

While we understand and support this decision in larger public health interest, we request the government for lending us some critical support within the delivery segment. To begin with, we request the Government to allow round-the-clock home delivery of food in lines with what Mumbai has done. Second, we urge the Government to smoothen the process of e-passes and issue clear directions to the law enforcing agencies so that these law-enforcing authorities does not subject our workers, who are also frontline warriors to any undue harassment. As one of the most badly bruised sectors, this is the least we expect from the Government as we struggle to ensure that the kitchen fires are kept burning in the homes of our employees.

I reiterate that as a responsible industry body; we are with the Government of Delhi in this fight against the pandemic. We assure them we will inspire all our members to follow all stated protocols and guidelines and expect similar reciprocation from the Government. We consider ourselves as partners to the Government in this grim battle against the pandemic and expect to be treated as partners in return.

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