The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) has sent out an advisory to its members to shut down the operations of their restaurants till March 31, 2020 or till such time when there are no new coronavirus cases reported for a few days. In a statement, the restaurant body has said that although the decision entails major financial impact, but temporarily shutting down operation would be in the larger interest of its members, their employees and the customers. "We at NRAI have been closely following what has been happening with the coronavirus outbreak. We find ourselves today in an unprecedented situation where we are compelled to make some difficult decisions which have massive financial implications on our businesses, but we are doing this in the larger benefit for our teams, our guests and our communities," it said.
The industry body which represents over 50 lakh restaurants across the country, further said that as most of the employees in restaurants use public transport to commute they run a "huge" risk of getting infected and further becoming carriers of the deadly virus.
"Hence, in order to avoid any such risk we advise all our members to shut down their operations and help curtail the spread of the deadly virus. We are also trying our best to ensure the well-being of our employees while they remain confined to their homes."
The NRAI statement noted that the food service works on the high proportion of fixed operating costs and the decision to shut down is extremely hard on the businesses.
It further said that it intends to work with all stakeholders in the ecosystem, from landlords to various departments of the government, banks and financial institutions and seek their support in mitigating the losses as far as possible.
As per the association, this is an extraordinary situation its expects support such as converting fixed rentals to variable revenue share, allowing input tax credit on GST, moratorium on loan repayment, waiver of interest, reduction on energy costs, deferred payment of license fee and taxes.
In India, the total number of coronavirus cases has reached 147 with 130 active cases as of Wednesday morning, as per the Union Health Ministry. These include 122 Indians and 25 foreigners.
A total of three deaths has been reported so far in the country, one each in Delhi, Maharashtra and Karnataka.