Mumbai, Jun 30 (PTI) The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) has announced the launch of a campaign #SaveRestaurants, which will highlight woes of the industry reeling under the COVID-19 stress.

The campaign, #SaveRestaurants (#KhadyagruhaWachva), will act as a voice for the sector, especially the small and medium sized eateries that serve the everyday working class in Maharashtra, according to a statement.

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While restaurants all across India opened on June 8, with restrictions, in Maharashtra they continued to remain closed, which has one of the highest statutory fees and taxes that have to be paid in advance, the HRAWI said.

“The government needs to act not today or tomorrow, but as of yesterday. We are talking about the tourism industry that is responsible for 10 per cent of the GDP. More than 1,00,000 estimated small and medium sized eateries serve the everyday working class of the state," HRAWI chairman, PR and Liasoning Sub Committee, Suhas Awchat said.

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"Our assessment is that at least 50 per cent of restaurants in Maharashtra will be unable to reopen," Awchat said.

Of those that reopen, a majority will find it difficult to sustain and may end up closing down within six to eight months, he added.

“We understand that these are challenging times, but at times like these leaders need to show spunk and imagination. We are talking of more than 1,00,000 restaurants, small, big, QSRs and bars, among others across Maharashtra closing down.

"The smallest of restaurants employ eight individuals, so on an average 5 lakh residents of the state are going to be jobless. Add the loss of indirect jobs and closure of vendor businesses, and we are staring at a disaster,” Awchat pointed out.

An average restaurant employs 20 heads, including waiters, cleaners and cooks, accountants, managers, delivery boys, security and gardeners.

“The average monthly outgoings are around Rs 3 to 4 lakh which include maintenance bills, utility bills, electricity and salaries. A business closed for three months translates to on-going expenses plus zero revenue,” HRAWI Vice President Pradeep Shetty said.

If the food industry collapses it will pose a new set of challenges for both the residents and industries of Mumbai when lockdown ends, Shetty added.

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