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BW Businessworld

Unlock 2.0: Maharashtra Allows Opening Of Hotels

Hoteliers have to be highly cautious in taking care of all preventive measures to ensure the safety of their customers.

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The fresh guidelines issued by the state government allows hospitality entities like hotels and lodges to provide accommodation services, outside containment zones to reopen, unless being used as a quarantine centre. The permission for reopening is highly conditional and ought to be done adhering to social distancing norms vigorously. Notably, public utility services like gymnasiums, gaming, and others are bound to remain closed unless further orders. The decision could have a reverberating impact keeping in mind the huge number of cases being reported every day while certain places like Aurangabad have extended restrictions in the wake of the rising cases. Amidst an extended lockdown due to the spurt in cases and deaths, such a decision could well backfire. Hoteliers have to be highly cautious in taking care of all preventive measures to ensure the safety of their customers. Nevertheless, despite the risks involved, the industry can breathe relief by resuming operations to gauge the path of recovery.

The Mixed Setup: Requisitioning and Reopening

Maharashtra leading the way, many of the states can be anticipated to allow hotels to resume business with restrictions in place in the phased unlock period. However, despite such possibilities, the industry has been jittery by now, as iconic hotels have been ordered to be converted to quarantine centres. The list includes epochal parador like the Taj Mahal Hotel which triggered difficulties as the premises are in an inhabitable condition given the renovation that started months ago. However, what becomes important here is to understand that hotels are not designed for accommodating patients and neither is the staff prepared to render appropriate services. Moreover, now that hotels are being allowed to reopen with limited occupancy, such requisitioning could be disastrous for hoteliers in business. The added burden of sanitising premises vigorously has been budging trouble for all hoteliers who now hope to foresee normalisation soon.

Hoteliers presume hardship ahead
In order to avoid transmission risks, accommodation facilities in states permitting operations to resume speculate troubled times ahead. The first hurdle that pops in is working with limited staff. The pandemic has led to the added responsibility of sanitising the premises in regular intervals along with ensuring safety protocols, which is an extra job to undertake, and in such a scenario having limited staff facilities could lead to genuine concerns. Even iconic hotels have pronounced the obvious choice to do away with lavish buffets and have decided to limit restaurant facilities to curb the infections which would have direct implications on the revenue generated. The additional gist hampering functions include making provisions of PPE kits and sensitisation of touchpoints frequently. The workforce of hotels has expressed concerns over the lingering risk of being infected as hotels begin taking in guests. The occupancy can be lower presently, however, with a lack of means of transportation, the risk involved in the everyday freight of staff members cannot be overlooked.

The bulging idea of workstations shifting form staycations
Doing a COVID somersault, hotel chains are pivoting on the idea of converting hotels into workstations with a work-from-a retreat along with a bunch of other offerings. Accommodation chains are opening up drivable-distance properties for executives looking for a safe and salubrious place to work out of the home. The pivoted places have been designed to accommodate long-stay making it Covid safe with adequate Wi-Fi and connectivity facilities. The chains anticipate long-stay workstations to become the trend with the changing outlook of industry performance across segments driven by the pandemic. Corporate persons have been celebrating such stay to accommodate staff to continue efficient working during the lockdown, a step above from the current work from home trend.

Restaurants shift online to meet customer cravings
Indian restaurateurs are up for a treat post the lockdown as people crave for dine outs. Foodies across the country have been ardently waiting to reign on the supreme delicacies post the lockdown. Online food delivery has been one of the very few segments emerging as winners through the pandemic. The likely changes in lifestyle would include a paradigm shift in eating habits. The eating-out culture has been fairly exacerbated with the looming safety ad hygiene concerns and online delivery has come to rescue. Restaurants have partnered with delivery partners have been significantly increasing while the industry put in concerted efforts to attract customers and keep businesses afloat. Definitely, the pandemic shall mark the end for the emerging social dining trends replaced by social distancing protocols.  

Covid-19 Impact: Hotels may be permanently shut

The leisure and tourism industry has come to a jerking halt with the spread of the virus having cataclysmic effect on the sector. The persistently mounting stress on the industry shall possibly force several hotels to shut their businesses permanently. Despite the unlock phase, restaurants and hotels have seen dismal response from customers, it being unviable for many stakeholders to sustain with low footfalls and increased spending. The restrictions have been eased but the night curfew still continues at various places hitting the dinner segments the worst. Hotels are having to face the brunt as travel restrictions remain in place with limited flights and trains operating. The states wherein reopening of hotels have been allowed are witnessing diminished occupancy with the tourism sector remaining on a standstill. The impact of the pandemic followed by the enforced lockdown shall be prolonged, ultimately causing death for a major part of the industry unable to cope with the changing trends and the shortfall in business.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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hospitality Unlock 2.0 Lockdown Guidelines COVID-19

Sonam Chandwani

The author is the Managing Partner at KS Legal & Associates and heads the firm's Corporate Litigation Practice. She specializes in commercial structures, commercial litigation, mergers & acquisitions generally, with an emphasis on large scale and complex commercial litigation including contract law, trade practices, real estate disputes and finance issues across a range of industry sectors.

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