Bar owners seek Himachal govt’s help to revive business
Say bars should not be on the list of prohibited activities as the retail sale of liquor was one of the first activities to be unlocked in all statesUpdated: Aug 27, 2020, 16:15 IST
With hotels in Himachal Pradesh set to resume operations in October and the state government easing Covid-19 curbs to revive the tourism and hospitality sectors, owners have sought the removal of bars from the list of prohibited activities.
The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Northern India, associated with the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India, has urged the government to remove bars from the list of prohibited activities.
“The government has allowed restaurants to open and serve food with soft beverages since June but serving of liquor with food has not been allowed. This when the retail sale of liquor was one of the first activities to be unlocked in all states,” says Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, the vice-president of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Northern India.
He said that the association had put up its demand before Union home minister Amit Shah. “It makes no difference if guests at a table consume food during a dine-in along with a soft drink, coffee or an alcoholic beverage. The bar owners in Shimla have also made a representation to the government. The bar is a general term that should not be linked only with serving alcohol,” he said.
“The government should normalise the opening of shops, restaurants, and eating joints just as it was before Covid-19 hit us,” says Sanjay Sood, the owner of Devicos bar and restaurant and president of the Shimla Hotel and Restaurateur Association.
There are more than 2,300 hotels and restaurants registered in Himachal Pradesh.
CURBS EASED FOR HOTELS
The Himachal Pradesh government amended the standard operation procedure to facilitate the tourism industry that has borne heavy losses due to the lockdown. Hotels in Himachal will resume operations in October, almost six months since the lockdown to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. The minimum stay for tourists has been reduced to two days from the earlier five days. Tourists can put up at different destinations.
Tourists can visit the state with a Covid-negative report of 72 hours prior to entering the state instead of 96 hours.
The information technology department has been asked to modify the electronic-pass software to generate a separate consolidated list of applications under the “tourist category”. The district administration shall scrutinise the uploaded documents within 24 hours of submission of the application.
In case a guest at the hotel tests positive, the room will be sealed for 48 hours unlike earlier when it was mandatory to seal the entire unit.
“The government’s decision to ease norms is appreciated. We have to see what impact it has on the inflow of tourists. If there is a need to relax the norms further, we will approach the government again,” says Mahinder Seth of the Tourism Industry Stakeholders Association.