Maharashtra Chief Minister, Uddhav Thackeray, on Sunday, informed about the state's plan to reopen restaurants and hotels in Maharashtra. He said that the decision will be taken after the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are finalised.
Thackeray organised a virtual conference with several hotel and lodge associations, where he spoke about the importance of hotels, lodges and restaurants in the tourism sector.
Aaditya Thackeray, who was also present in the meeting said, "The (hotel) industry has played an important role since day one (of the Covid-19 outbreak) by housing frontline warriors in hotels and lodges."
In another meeting, the Chief Minister also requested the companies and people in the hotel management industry not to dismiss employees or workers even if there is a wage cut.
"SoPs for reopening hotels and restaurants are being finalized. Once that is done, a decision on reopening hotels and restaurants will be taken soon," Thackeray informed in a virtual meeting.
'Mission Begin Again' or Unlock phase 1 was launched by the state government last month to resume the economic operations in Maharashtra and reopen all the industries.
He requested the people in the hotel management industry not to lay off its employees as the 'Mission Begin Again' scheme is in process and said that proper health protocols and safety measures will be followed as the work resumes.
"(Factors like) SoPs, regulation and self regulation, work force strength, health safety measures etc. are very much important," the CM said.
"Hotels as well as lodges, which are important industries in the tourism business, have to be allowed with great care before starting. Your responsibility is two-fold," he added. He said that every person visiting the hotel needs to undergo a medical examination to check their health status. He also assured the hotels that trade unions would not propose obstructive demands amid such a crisis.
The representative of the hotel industry spoke on behalf of some restaurants and hotels to be permitted to reopen following safe distancing. 80% of the hotel staff consisted of migrant workers.
Director of Pritam Hotels and President of Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India, Gurbaxish Singh Kohli stated, currently the hotel industry requires working capital. "The government should also see us as Corona Warriors. Jobs are going everywhere but we are taking care that the stoves in our employee's homes remain lit. We try to stay with the government," he said.
Hotels Association member, Vivek Nair, said that the government should reduce the electricity bills and should also provide water and electricity to the hotel business at industrial rates.
Due to this COVID-19 necessitated lockdown, the hotel and restaurant business suffered a major loss where they lost around Rs 6 crore per day.
"If social distancing norms (for patrons) and overall hygiene protocol is maintained, then there is no problem (in reopening hotels)," they stated. They added that if the tables are arranged properly then it will be easy to maintain hygiene.
Currently, most of the Mumbai hotels are being used by the municipality as quarantine centres for COVID-19 workers, as well as for patients. The hotels urged to provide them with some minimum payment so that they can bear the expenses and continue with their services.
Puneet Chawla, Managing director and chief executive officer of Indian Hotels Company Ltd, which also runs the Taj group of hotels said, several hotels and restaurants are laying off their employees and workers because they have no other option. "So if hotels are started to some extent, the business will grow," he said.