Restaurant owners have appealed to the government to reopen dine-in facilities immediately with appropriate standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place.
All Pakistan Restaurants Association (APRA) Chairman Babar Nehal and Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo on Wednesday held a press conference to express deep concern of the restaurant industry over the restrictions.
“The restaurant sector is in dire need of government support and facilitation as it has been gravely affected by Covid-19,” they said. “Its operations have been suspended and sales and revenues have declined steeply.”
Nehal emphasised that the latest wave of Covid-19 did not emerge due to restaurants because the sector was allowed to operate with only 50% seating capacity and that too under very strict SOPs.
Under current circumstances, “the restaurant industry has reached a point where it cannot survive and reach break-even without being allowed to resume dine-in services,” he said.
FPCCI Standing Committee on Restaurants Convener Waqas Azeem lamented that the government failed to provide any relief and support for the restaurant sector.
“Instead of facilitation, there are widespread reports that various departments are busy extorting money through bribe from restaurants in the name of enforcing SOPs, which has dealt a deadly blow to the sector,” he said.
Maggo urged the government to take input and feedback of the restaurant industry players and stakeholders through a consultative process before announcing and enforcing restrictions. He also called for resuming dine-in facility with immediate effect.
“Although restaurant closure is painful for all, employees such as waiters, cleaners and other helpers are in a grave situation,” remarked Mubashir Mahmood, who frequently dines at restaurants. “They are losing their income sources and the situation is getting critical for these low-income people.”
“Eid is near and families of restaurant employees will demand new clothes, footwear and other such things, but they will be unable to fulfill their needs,” said Adeel Nazeer, another restaurant visitor.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2021.