Bar on bars lifted in Chandigarh
While lifting the night curfew with immediate effect under the Centre’s Unlock 4 plan, the Chandigarh administration on Monday also allowed serving of liquor in restaurants, clubs and hotels and opening of bars after nearly six months.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, serving of liquor was banned on March 24. Even night curfew had been imposed, which at present was from 10pm to 5am in the city.
The decision was taken in line with the central government order that prohibits lockdowns outside containment zones without its permission as part of Unlock 4 guidelines. It comes at a time when the city has seen a sharp surge in Covid-19 cases. With 191 fresh cases reported on Monday, the total has reached 4,346, which includes 1,857 active cases.
Meanwhile, the administration will take a call on the odd-even system imposed in 12 congested markets and weekend closure of the city’s prime tourist spot Sukhna Lake in the Wednesday’s war room meeting. Till then, the previous orders will continue to remain operational.
MAJOR RELIEF FOR HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
For the city’s hospitality industry that is reeling under the six-month lockdown and pandemic blues, the opening of bars will bring a major relief, said industry representatives.
Though hotels, clubs and restaurants were opened as part of Unlock 1 on June 8, liquor was not allowed to be served. Similarly, the night curfew restricted the working of restaurants. Consequently, many restaurants have remained closed.
Manmohan Kohli, chairman, Hotels and Restaurants Association, Chandigarh, said: “It is a positive step. It is more symbolic in nature than economic, indicating that things are moving toward normalcy.”
However, due to the pandemic, the number of main clientele of bars — professionals from outside and tourists — is still very low, he said.
Welcoming the decision, Ankit Gupta, president, Chandigarh Hospitality Association, said: “Hospitality industry has been one of the worst-hit sectors due to the lockdown. The decision will help in its revival. However, nearly 60% of the beer season, which is the main liquor consumed in the city, is gone. It will affect the earnings.”
The UT excise and taxation department will also start issuing liquor licences to restaurants and hotels for the current financial year from Tuesday.
Reacting to hospitality industry’s demand for some relief, UT adviser Manoj Parida said: “We are examining the matter, and subject to the UT’s financial condition, a reasonable decision will be taken.”
TO FOLLOW SOCIAL DISTANCING NORMS
The Centre has not issued any specific guidelines for serving of liquor, though industry insiders said the June guidelines on social distancing and other precautions will be followed.
“Guidelines like wearing of masks, proper social distancing, using only 50% of seating capacity and sanitisation will be followed. We are awaiting to get more clarity on the issue,” said Ankit Gupta.
Meanwhiile, even clubs will be able to serve liquor again. Sandeep Singh Sandhu, president, Chandigarh Golf Club, said: “We are yet to start the club restaurant. As now liquor has been allowed, we plan to open it in the next three to four days. Initially, people might hesitate in eating out, but gradually the pace will pick up and liquor will help us meet the expenses of running the club restaurant.”
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