Partial lockdowns, curfews and other restrictions in many parts of India to battle a fresh surge of the Covid-19 pandemic could see a sharp increase in the closure of restaurants, a worried industry said as it demanded fresh support for survival from the government.
India’s massive restaurant industry, which provides jobs to millions, was devastated last year as many had to shut down when the government announced a national lockdown to control the spread of the pandemic, forcing people to remain indoors.
Fresh restrictions will only push the closure rate higher, Anurag Katriar, President of National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), told indoasiancommodities.com.
“About 30 percent of the restaurant units had to be shut down last year all across the country as they could not operate for six months and then the business pick up was very low in the second part of the year. And now with a somewhat similar situation, we are back to square one and there could be more closure if the restrictions stay for quite some time,” Katriar said.
Restaurants that closed last year also included those that were part of big chains, according to him.
“There are many big restaurant chains, especially in major metros like Mumbai and Delhi, which have significantly reduced the number of their operating units apart from plenty of closure of stand-alone ones. With fixed costs becoming a burden, many restaurant owners and chains were left with no option,” Katriar said.
As per an estimate by NRAI, which represents more than 500,000 units across the country, the total business of the Indian restaurant sector nosedived to Rs 100,00 crore in FY 2020 – less than one fourth of the estimated Rs 423,865 crore in FY 2019.
Fearing a fresh round of bloodbath just at the onset of the new fiscal with new Corona led restrictions, the restaurant association has demanded immediate intervention from the government.
“The government must intervene at an early stage this time declaring our business as a highly stressed industry and provision for easy liquidity. We are also asking for restoration of input tax credit on GST which would be a big relief,” Katriar emphasised.