SDMC likely to look at open-air dining proposal at next meeting
Residents of the city will have to wait a little longer to enjoy the open-air dining experience at restaurants in south Delhi as the Standing Committee of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) on Friday postponed a discussion on the proposal. The committee members have asked the officials to broach the matter in the next meeting, likely to be scheduled later this month, saying that they need more time to discuss the draft policy.
The move was envisaged after restaurant owners approached the civic body with a request to allow open-air dining on the terraces and lawns of restaurants, citing losses due to Covid-19.
According to SDMC officials, the policy allowing restaurants and eateries to serve food in open spaces is more relevant during the Covid-19 crisis as there is a lower risk of the virus spreading in open areas than in closed rooms with air conditioning.
“We have placed a draft policy before the standing committee which has not been passed today. It has been postponed until the next meeting,” the official said.
Under the policy, the municipality plans to allow open-air dining at restaurants under its jurisdiction with certain riders. There are nearly 2,000 restaurants and eateries in south Delhi.
A senior SDMC official said that according to the draft policy that open-air dining would be allowed only at those restaurants which own open areas or terraces so that there is no encroachment on public land or pavements.
“The policy does not allow cooking or barbecuing in the open. The food should be cooked in closed kitchens and only be served in the open. Light music can also be played in an open-air dining area, but it should not be beyond permissible decibel levels. Live band performances will not be allowed under such as arrangement,” the official said.
He added that under the policy, liquor would only be permitted at licensed terraces and the restaurant owners would have to install view cutters and high parapet grilles to ensure that there is no inconvenience to others.
The official said that the licensing fee is yet to be fixed but it is likely to be around ₹100 per square ft for normal restaurants and ₹200 per square ft for four-star restaurants and hotels.
“We have postponed the matter to the next meeting as there are several points, such as licensing fee, which are to be discussed in detail,” a member of the SDMC standing committee said.
The officials further said that, under the policy, the only restaurants that would be allowed to have open-air seating arrangements would be those that already have a health trade license and a NOC from the fire department.
Commenting on the matter, Sandeep Khandelwal, the president of the Delhi Hotel and Restaurants Association, said, “There is no point in delaying the policy to allow open-air dining at restaurants. Such a move is more relevant during the pandemic because there is a smaller chance of the virus spreading. The move is also aimed at benefiting traders, as due to Covid-19, people do not want to visit restaurants. The open-air dining system is already in place in many counties, so the authorities should allow such a practice here also. Such a move will also bring more revenue to the corporation. It should be implemented at the earliest.”