A year into the pandemic Covid-19 and there’s still no sign of a vaccine shot that can save the hospitality industry in India. Rojita Tiwari spoke to a few key figures from the trade to assess the situation.
One of the worst affected, the bars, hotels, and restaurant industry is grappling with the impact of the pandemic. This year-long battle against coronavirus coupled with hastily made policies by the government also lack of empathy from the decision makers is only making the matter worse.
In light of the current surge in covid-19 cases across the country, particularly in the state of Maharashtra, the government this week declared a fresh set of orders calling it “Break The Chain” which has raised grave concern about the future of the industry. Many believe this will only break the morale of the people whose livelihood depends on the survival of the hospitality industry.
What does the current lockdown 2.0 mean?All bars, restaurants remain shut until 30 April. Deliveries and takeaways are permitted only between 7am to 8pm on weekdays. And on weekends only home delivery between 7am to 8pm.
Gauri Devidayal, Restaurateur and owner of a The Table, Iktara and a few other restaurants in Mumbai says, “This lockdown may sound the death knell for our industry. It’s worse than before in terms of timings, also makes absolutely no sense considering the real spike in cases happened after the local trains resumed full service. Of course, we want to support the government in whatever way we can to break the chain, but the sentiment needs to have mutually agreement . It doesn’t feel that way at the moment.” Gauri also urged Mumbaikars to support their favourite restaurants by ordering in and doing so directly (not through aggregators as much as possible).
Social media is buzzing with reactions and comments from various segments. One of the forwarded posts called for action, to save the hospitality industry in India which has seen no public sympathy or media attention.
“The fresh set of restrictions have only confused us further” said, Pankil Shah, co-owner of the famous gastropubs Woodside Mumbai and The Pantry Mumbai. He sounded off his resentment over social media through a series of posts that showed how bizarre the situation is. Here’s what he said.
Anurag Katriar, Restaurateur, CEO deGustibus Hospitality and President of National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI) in his latest tweet / open letter to the Maharashtra Govt asked the government to shut down the F & B business in the state completely! Here’s the thread :
Last year was brutal enough for the bar industry. (Read our previous article “Industry That Drinks Together, Stays Together” Keeping the spirits high during Covid-19)
Vishal Tawde, a bartender by profession lost his job during the lockdown last year as the outlet that he was working at closed down. He shared, “It was a tough period to live through because of the financial instability. I took it positively by spending quality time with family since this wasn’t possible earlier due to my hectic work schedule. But I also felt a loss of self-confidence, and absence of connectivity with people was making it even more difficult. Finally, I managed to get a work opportunity in an upcoming new project in Kalaghoda, Mumbai. The outlet is all set to open doors but these new restrictions have again created uncertainty.”
One of the associations for bartenders is IFBA (Indian Flair Bartenders Association) which is working overtime to take care of the ones in need. Abhijeet Roy, board member of IFBA and Founder of the beverage school MADHUSHALA said, “The entire hospitality industry is in great distress after issuance of the new guidelines in Maharashtra. After surviving through the year-long trauma as we tried to find some sense of normalcy this blow came in. Many businesses may succumb to this atrocity. Unfortunately, the plight of the lakhs of people employed in this industry has been completely ignored by the authorities. We receive calls and messages everyday from many bartenders, hospitality staff who have lost their jobs, so many qualified professionals ready to take up whatever opportunities come in their way, in the desperate attempt to survive. Some of the families are starving, many are quitting the industry, or closing down businesses and vowing never to come back.”
“We try to offer counselling to many who even speak of ending their lives. The association is doing its best to help the bartenders financially or otherwise, organising free online mentoring programmes, assisting people with finding new jobs. We are also taking help from liquor companies to get support in anyway possible,” he added. IFBA is currently developing an inbuilt zonal system to reach out to bartenders from various states, and to offer them any kind of help required.
Unfortunately IFBA doesn’t have enough funds to cater to the needs of the industry, hence, Abhijeet is requesting big brands or organisations with funds to support the Indian bartending community, to offer help in any possible way that will keep the industry afloat.