After a five-month ban as part of the restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, bars, restaurants, hotels and clubs in Delhi have now opened up and will start serving liquor to dine-in customers from today. The decision, which was taken earlier last week by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) headed by lieutenant governor Anil Baijal, approved the sale of alcoholic beverages to dine-in customers from 9 September and 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. No standing customers will be allowed. Aged and pregnant employees as well as those with any other form of illness would not be exposed to frontline work. Contactless ordering and digital payments would be encouraged. Tables should be sanitised every time a customer leaves the establishemnet.
The 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. Starting today as of 9 September, excise officials will conduct surprise checks at restaurants, bars, hotels and clubs. However, bars and pubs falling in containment zones shall still remain closed for longer duration.
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 8 June, hotels were allowed to restart operations last month only.