Last nail in our coffin: Pune hoteliers condemn govt decision to keep eateries closed

Last year's lockdown has already led to the shutting down of 40 percent of the restaurants in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad.

Credit : Representational image

Pune: Hotel industry in Pune fears a huge setback as restaurants, hotels, bars and eateries in the city have been asked to remain closed for the next seven days as part of the new COVID restrictions in the city. Restaurant owners in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad have called this a black day. The restrictions, announced by Pune Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao, will be enforced starting April 3rd. Opposing the decision, Sharan Shetty of Pune Hoteliers Association said that this is like the “last nail in the coffin” for the restaurateurs.

“This has come as a huge blow to us. It will affect the industry and it will affect the restaurant staff adversely,” says Ganesh Shetty, President, Pune Restaurants and Hoteliers Association (PRAHA) as he reacts to the new rules.


Business affected severely

“The restaurants were among the first to be shut down in March 2020, and were among last businesses to be reopened in October. Most have not yet recovered from the last lockdown’s losses. Many restaurants already had to shut down services after a night curfew was imposed in Pune from 8 pm,” Ganesh Shetty added.

In a statement released to condemn the decision, United Hospitality Association's Vice President Ajinkya Shinde said that last year's lockdown has already led to the shutting down of 40 percent of the restaurants in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. "The restaurants that are operational haven't recovered even upto 50 percent of the pre-lockdown profit levels. Many are struggling to continue the day-to-day operations, pay rent. Why are the restaurants kept shut when the shops, vegetable markets have not been asked to shut down?" he questioned.


No concession or compensation

The government gave no concessions or compensations to the restaurateurs, the associations said. “We got no tax concessions despite all the losses. Neither did we get any compensation, Ganesh Shetty said.

Restaurateurs have also asked why they are being punished while they have followed all COVID protocols and supporting the government during the pandemic. “Last year, when the pandemic hit, we provided hotel rooms for the frontline workers. Several hotels also provided food to doctors and nurses. The government is yet to pay us any dues for that. And on top of that, they are taking away all the chances of recovery from us,” Sharan Shetty added.

If the situation continues like this, Shinde says that it will be next to impossible for the hotel industry to recover from the pandemic losses.