- Opening of hotels, restaurants and shopping malls from June 8 would lift consumer sentiments but real challenge lies in phase-II when most people start going to work
- Onset of monsoon would add to the challenge as people would also be at risk of mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and malaria
- Hoteliers and retailers welcomed the government decision to open the economy in phases saying it will create jobs and provide livelihood
- Indian arm of German wholesale retailer Metro Cash & Carry see the move in right direction as it will help create jobs
The move to allow opening of hotels, restaurants and shopping malls from June 8 would lift consumer sentiments but real challenge lies in phase-II when most people start going to work and monsoon arrives in many parts of the country raising the risk of certain diseases.
Starting Monday, most lockdown restrictions barring those in containment zones would be lifted and inter-state movement of people would be permitted without the need for an approval or e-pass.
In its order issued on Saturday, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has allowed hotels, shopping malls, temples and restaurants to open from June 8 in the first phase. In the second phase, schools, colleges, coaching institutes and other training centres are proposed to be opened in July after stakeholder consultations.
Hoteliers, retailers and public policy experts welcomed the government decision to partially open the economy but said that that the recovery will be gradual and slow. In a significant move, the centre had allowed domestic airlines to operate flights from May 25 raising hopes that lockdown restrictions would be substantially removed after May 31.
Metro Cash & Carry India MD and CEO Arvind Mediratta said the government decision to remove lockdown curbs is a move in right direction as it is key to create jobs and help people earn their livelihood.
"It is a very positive development. First starting with airlines and then hotels, restaurants and shopping malls, it is a very good move. We welcome it whole-heartedly," Mediratta said.
The Indian arm of German wholesale retailer has seen almost 20-25% increase in sales between April and May. It expects the sales to further go up with the gradual opening of the economy.
Hotels like Radisson Blu and Roseate also see things looking up for the sector but expect the recovery to be slow. The hoteliers said that hotel business is such that it is the first sector to get affected when sentiment is down but the last one to recover when normalcy returns.
"It is a first step forward. We expect slow and gradual recovery going forward," Anirban Sarkar, General Manager at Radisson Blu, Greater Noida.
Ankur Bhatia who runs a chain of Roseate hotels in India and the UK said that there would be equal responsibility on both hotels and guests to maintain social distancing norms and other guidelines issued by the government so that operations remain smooth and the sector does not head for another shutdown later on when cases of coronavirus go up.
"We have been preparing ourselves for the opening. The government had come up with a set of guidelines seeking inputs from stakeholders. We had given our inputs and the government has to now come with the final guidelines," Bhatia said.
Hospitality sector has been one of the worst-affected sectors from the coronavirus-induced lockdown. Industry body CII has estimated that the sector could take Rs 5 lakh crore hit due to economic activities coming to a halt. The opening of the economy is, however, set to improve the sentiments and help in reviving it.
"The first phase of the opening is designed to help lift the sentiments and reduce fear. By doing this, life will slowly come back to normal. The real challenge though lies in part-II where you have all the people going to work," said Riaz Thingna, Director, Grant Thornton Advisory.
Thingna said that onset of monsoon would add to the challenge as people would also be at risk of mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and malaria apart from the much-dreaded coronavirus.