OVER FIVE months after they were ordered shut due to the Covid outbreak, bars in Delhi’s restaurants, hotels and clubs will be allowed to open from September 9 with strict regulations in place, including 50 per cent seating and no provision for standing customers.
The decision, which was taken by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) Thursday, will be implemented on a trial basis till September 30, after which it will be reviewed.
According to the guidelines, social distancing and masks will be mandatory, and staff and patrons will be screened for symptoms. The DDMA has also ordered that premises be sanitised regularly and staff members wear gloves and masks, and “maintain hygiene”.
Failure to follow the guidelines will result in sealing of premises and may even lead to the excise licence being cancelled, in addition to action against the owner under the Disaster Management Act and Section 188 of the IPC.
Since June, when Covid curbs were relaxed in phases, restaurant and hotel owners have reached out to the government several times for permission to serve liquor and help increase footfall. While restaurants were allowed to reopen on June 8, hotels were allowed to restart operations last month.
The Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC) has welcomed the latest move. “We have repeatedly requested the government to permit bars, restaurants, hotels and clubs to serve liquor and are glad to see that the government is demonstrating its progressive and business-friendly outlook,” said CIABC Director General, Vinod Giri.
“Though this sector accounts for less than 10% of liquor sales, its rejuvenation is a major psychological milestone on the road back to normalcy in Delhi. In our estimates, 15,000 cases of liquor are locked up in inventory with bars and restaurants, and liquidation of that will be a great relief to the hospitality sector. It will also help in dealing with the livelihood crisis, which the workers were facing due to closure of this business,” Giri said.
The sale of liquor is among the biggest sources of revenue for the Delhi government. As per the last annual budget, the projected excise revenue was Rs 6,279 crore — 14 per cent of total revenue projections.
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