With daily Covid cases dropping below 2,000 in the state and to around 400 in Mumbai, the Maharashtra government has extended the business hours of shops and other establishments to 11pm while restaurants may stay open until midnight, effective from Tuesday. As reported by The Free Press Journal, the state’s Covid taskforce, headed by Dr Sanjay Oak, had given its nod for the extension in timings of shops and restaurants beyond 10 pm at a meeting with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday. Thereafter, Thackeray had asked the administration to prepare the guidelines.
The order, signed by Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte said, “With immediate effect, all restaurants and eateries may be allowed to function till midnight till 12 am and all other establishments that have been allowed to function by the Government may be allowed to function till 11 pm. Local District Disaster Management Authority may restrict these timings further if so, deemed fit due to any local requirements but shall not relax it further without consent of State Disaster Management Authority.”
Kunte said the government had decided to extend the timings of shops, other establishments and restaurants bearing in mind that with the present deadline of 10pm it could lead to crowding, especially during the festive season. “In the wake of the upcoming festival season, it is now felt that restrictions on the time of functioning for various establishments like shops, restaurants, hotels will lead to more crowding in the shorter duration in which they are currently allowed to function,” he said.
The president of the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association, Viren Shah, said the government’s decision to extend timings till 11pm would definitely boost sales, especially in shops and restaurants in malls. “It will help shops, restaurants in malls and restaurants and lounges in cities as they have suffered during the pandemic. However, we are waiting for the lifting of complete restrictions so that NRI customers visit Mumbai frequently, as they are big buyers and 30 per cent shops get business from NRIs,” he added.
Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India Senior Vice President Pradeep Shetty said, “The additional two hours will provide much-needed succour to the beleaguered hospitality industry. However, we wish extension was granted until 1.30am, the pre-Covid deadline, and considering the onset of the wedding season, the move had been accompanied with lifting of restrictions on banquets, weddings and events.” He added that the current limit of 100 guests for weddings and social events is prohibitive and unviable under present circumstances.