No or little compensation by states

Hotels are being used by states for housing health workers with little or no compensation, pushing these unsung heroes further into debt. Gurbaxish Singh Kohli,President, HRAWI and Vice President, FHRAI, explains…

Hazel Jain

Speaking about the need for transparency with regards to hotels being used as quarantine centres and accommodation for health workers, Gurbaxish Singh Kohli says, “Nothing has been laid down on paper as of now. For more than two months, our services are being used and our costs are increasing due to being operational, but nothing is being said about the compensation due to us.”

He says that hotels and restaurants are the unsung COVID-19 warriors for serving the country by offering their rooms and their kitchens. Unfortunately, they are not being recognised for this. “Hotels are being used by all states for housing the health workers. For almost two months now, hotels are being used for the purpose without any compensation or payment. Also, the compensation marked for this requisition is next to nothing. It is tantamount to further burdening a sector which is already on the verge of extinction. None of the hotels have been paid for the occupation since more than two months and although we have approached the authorities several times verbally and expressed to fix a reasonable compensation and make payment immediately, there is no revert from them till date. They have to understand that this occupation without any payment whatsoever will be the last straw that will break the camel’s back. As it is we are burdened with liabilities, there is no stimulus from the government and now they have forced us to keep our premises open to house medical workers among other essential healthcare personnel and take care of them. We incur operational expenses and yet we aren’t getting paid. Due to this, not one but all hotels are affected adversely, and the government seriously needs to think if they are willing to push this sector into oblivion and take responsibility for killing the sector,”Kohli says.

Need for co-ordination between Centre and states

Meanwhile, certain states like Rajasthan have been allowed to open their hotels and restaurants, those in Mumbai and  certain parts of Maharashtra have still not been permitted to open for guests. Commenting on this, Kohli says, “Hotels and restaurants have been ready to serve customers for quite some time and are fully prepared to open up. But, there needs to be proper coordination between the Centre and state governments. There is no clarity because every day there is a new circular by various departments and then there is a correctional additional circular issued.”

He also highlights certain unnecessary hurdles that they are facing right now. “Putting deadlines of shutting after 9pm and not allowing liquor to be sold are some of the other impediments which will not allow many restaurants to open even after lockdown on them is lifted,” Kohli says, adding, “Hotels and restaurants are safer than shops. There is automatically physical distancing in hotel rooms and in restaurants, unlike shops, everyone cannot walk in.”

Not one but all hotels are affected adversely; the government needs to think if they are willing to push this sector into oblivion

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