On March 18, 2020 NRAI had issued an advisory to all its members to shut down their dine-in operations till March 31, 2020 in view of the serious health risk to millions of employees and patrons in the Foodservice sector amidst ever-worsening situation around COVID-19 in India.
Thousands of restaurateurs across several cities responded positively to the call and shut down their operations in an effort to contain the spread of virus, despite incurring financial losses in the process. The move was subsequently followed by several State Governments and City Administrations issuing directives to mandatorily shut down Restaurants until March 31, 2020.
Anurag Katriar, president of NRAI; CEO & executive director of deGustibus Hospitality, said, “The restaurant industry with an annual turnover of approximately Rs 4 lakh crore providing direct employment to over seven million Indians is in a very precarious situation currently, fighting a grim battle for its basic survival. In these times of unprecedented crisis, the fate of 7.30 million employees in F&B sector is our biggest concern. We don’t want them to suffer but unfortunately, we don’t have adequate resources to support them for long. Hence, we have written to our FM requesting for financial relief at such a crucial time. While preventing loss of direct jobs is our prime concern, we are also concerned about the dreams of many young entrepreneurs in the sector getting shattered due to this calamity. We, as an industry, operate with a very high proportion of fixed operating expenses which makes our business very high-risk even in case of moderate revenue fluctuations. Now we are staring at almost zero revenue in the immediate term and at least drop 50 per cent for months thereafter. We are therefore seeking support from everyone in the ecosystem in mitigating these fixed operating costs so that our losses are contained to manageable levels. The Union and the State governments are two of the most important stakeholders and we are pinning lots of hope on them to bail us out of this unprecedented crisis. Some of our salient demands are some pay cover for the marginal employees in the sector; deferment of all statutory dues at the central and state level; moratorium on bank loans; restoration of input tax credit on GST for the sector and a general invocation of force majeure clause in view of this global pandemic.”