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Approximately 30% of hotels and restaurants in Maharashtra reopened on Monday after being shut since the lockdown was announced at the end of March.

On Saturday, the state-issued Covid-related guidelines for hotels and restaurants to reopen. The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI), an apex body of hoteliers, said approximately 1.20 lakh hotels of the total 4 lakh in the state opened on Monday. “Majority of the hotels are facing an acute shortage of staff as the migrant workers have not been able to reach their workplaces till date. Besides, issues like the renegotiation of rents with landlords are taking place. Some hoteliers want to be fully compliant with the new rules before opening their establishments,” said Sherry Bhatia, president, HRAWI.

Those who opened their establishments said there were few customers. “We hardly had 10 % consumers on the first day,” said Narayan Poojari, managing director of restaurant chain Shiv Sagar, which has 15 outlets across Mumbai. He said they are facing acute shortage with only 150 of their 800 staff on duty.

Fountain Hospitality Private Limited (FHPL), which runs four restaurants including Flamboyante and Fountain Sizzlers, said there was some interest in dining out. “There is happiness among the patrons who came to dine on the first day. We are taking all precautions to ensure their safety and also requesting them for prior reservation so that we can plan better,” said Amrish Arora, managing director, FHPL. However, FHPL has restricted its menu to 110 items from the pre-Covid 200 items. “It is just the first day and it is a matter of time before business picks up,” said Arora.

“Most of the hoteliers are facing monetary crises as they have been closed for more than six months with hardly any income. Also, most landlords did not waive rent, which has impacted their finances very badly. They are raising funds,” said Savio D’sa, a consultant for several hotels and restaurants.

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