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Restaurant owners implore government to let them work

TFM PHOTO: Youth thronging Mahabali Kabui Khul street stalls for their favourite momos

The members of Manipur Restaurant and Café Association stated that food safety guidelines are strictly followed by them and it is time that the government looks into the crisis situation of the food-service industry which has been generating employment opportunities for the youth.

TFM Desk

Restaurateurs and café owners are presently hit hard by the lockdown and curfews imposed in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. Many owners are at their wits end on how to support their families and hotel staff. Concerned members of the Manipur Restaurant and Café Association talked to the media at Munchies Café located at Tiddim Road on Sunday.

Dannis Khoirom, owner of BBQ Nation said that food-service industry has been adversely affected since the advent of the first Covid-19 wave. When the second wave exploded, the government clamped lockdown conditions that had impacted the economic life of the common man. The overall situation has not spared the food industry including restaurants and cafes. Owners have struggled to pay rents for hired spaces, to clear EMIs for loans taken, to support their staff etc., he said.

“We are at a loss, we don’t know what to do, at least 200 small to medium enterprises are affected and we employ at least 9/10 employees in one place, many of our cooks and waiters come from different communities, they also earn for their families, we have a major situation here,” Dannis Khoirom said. He added that the state authorities should look into the plight of the entrepreneurs and find an amicable solution to the ongoing issues.

Rajiv Laipubam, owner of Fat Boy fast food said that they are now in a situation that may lead to closing down business if the government continues with the imposition of curfews and lockdowns. “We have invested much in our business, there are many other stakeholders inclusive of employees who depend on us for many things inclusive of their health problems. We request the state government to work out a system to address our plight, we can cut down on tables and we are all observing the Covid protocol, our situation is dire,” he said.

At the same time, it can be observed that there are also many eateries in and around city premises which are open. The stalls which are selling momos at Mahabali Kabui khul is thronged by youths till evening. There is no proper Covid SOP maintained in the numerous stalls frequented by the youth. The government also gives permission to open for restaurants with lodging facilities like hotels.

Duran Thiyam, owner of Munchies complained that they are left high and dry in the aftermath of Covid and pandemic management. He said that cafes and restaurants cannot engage in delivering food items as it does not generate enough revenue. The government allows food delivery and exempts service providers, but the primary contention is that the service charge for delivery cuts into the cost and profit of the restaurant and café owners.

The members of the association stated that food safety guidelines are strictly adhered to by them and it is time that the government looks into the crisis situation of the food-service industry which has been generating employment opportunities for the youth. “If this continues, we may as well close down our businesses, we fervently appeal the authorities to come out with a solution,” Duran said. The Association has approximately 200 members and each food joint employs at least seven to ten people. 

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