Pune: The civic and police authorities have told restaurants across the city, including those in areas such as Koregaon Park, Bavdhan, Bibvewadi, Dhankawadi, Gultekdi, Aundh, Baner and Karvenagar, to down shutters at 7pm.
The restaurant owners claim that the deadline did not explicitly apply to their outlets in any “Mission Begin Again” notification issued by the state or city authorities so far. Restaurants in the state are currently only undertaking home delivery and takeaways, with dine-in services still banned due to the pandemic.
The anti-encroachment department of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) recently began its drive against shops flouting operation norms, including those that function beyond 7pm. However, restaurant owners said the 7pm deadline was also being applied to eateries.
Industry sources said most business takes place after 7pm. Only a few days ago, restaurants were being allowed to carry on with takeaways until 10-11pm.
This is not the first time the PMC is treating restaurants on a par with shops. In the past, authorities had cracked down on restaurants for not following the now-scrapped P1-P2 rule for non-essential shops.
Prashant Shetty, owner of Nimantran restaurant at Bibvewadi, told TOI, “We were operating takeaways and home deliveries until 11pm. However, the authorities have now been telling us that we come under the category of shops and thus have to close at 7pm. We argued that we come under the food delivery sector and are not even allowing customers to enter our establishments.”
Shetty said takeaway services account for 10-20% of sales in restaurants. “Around 80% takeaways happen in the evening, after 7pm,” he said.
Vikram Shetty, vice-president of the Pune Restaurants and Hoteliers Association, said, “With restrictions on timings for takeaways and the authorities treating restaurants at par with shops, maintaining staff salaries have also become an issue for our members. All PMC orders issued so far on easing restrictions do not mention a closing timing for restaurants.” He said the PMC issued a Rs1,000 challan to a restaurant in Koregaon Park for operating beyond 7pm.
A senior Pune police officer said, “As per PMC orders, shops have to shut by 7pm. This also includes restaurants that will have to shut their kitchen by 7pm.”
The PMC recently started a special drive against those flouting the Unlock guidelines. Madhav Jagtap, head of PMC’s anti-encroachment department, said, “Except for medical shops, all establishments are being asked to close by 7pm. This includes restaurants undertaking takeaways and home deliveries.”
When asked if the 7pm deadline is likely to be reconsidered for restaurants as they are struggling for a livelihood, PMC commissioner Vikram Kumar told TOI, “I will take up this issue for discussion with the mayor and police commissioner.”
Another restaurateur in Gultekdi said, “The PMC and police start coming to the restaurants around 7pm, asking us to shut. This has caused losses as my restaurant gets at least 30 takeaway orders between 8pm and 10pm every day.”
A restaurateur in Bavdhan said, “PMC had served our restaurant a notice on Monday. It mentioned several points, including adherence to the closing deadline. The authorities said that if we continued to operate beyond the deadline, they would fine us.”
Source: Thanks https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/pune/restaurants-cry-foul-say-forced-to-shut-at-7pm-like-shops-though-most-biz-happens-after-that/articleshow/78285430.cms