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Cheers, the bar is raised

Here's some cheers for bar frequenters. The Delhi government allows restaurants and bars in the capital, which now close at 12 am, to stay open till 1 am and, on 50 days in a year, they can serve liquor till 2 am in the morning, reports Amitabh Shukla.
Hindustan Times | By Amitabh Shukla, New Delhi
UPDATED ON OCT 23, 2007 03:08 AM IST

Restaurants and bars in the Capital, which now close at 12 am., can stay open till 1 am from Tuesday and, on 50 days in a year, they can serve liquor till 2 am, the Delhi Government announced on Monday.

“With the economy flourishing and Delhi becoming a global destination, we decided to extend the timings,” said Delhi Excise and Finance Minister A.K. Walia. “A large number of foreign delegates and spectators would come to the city during the Commonwealth Games. The decision is in line with global trends.”

For the city’s rich who use five-star hotels, the government has been liberal.

All restaurants in a five-star hotel can serve liquor round-the-clock after necessary clearances from the Excise Department. So far, only one restaurant in a five-star hotel was allowed to serve liquor 24 hours.

The proposal to extend liquor-serving hours was made more than two months ago but faced resistance with the Delhi Police saying a law and order problem could emerge: drunken brawls at midnight and beyond.

The police said it would have to deploy extra manpower to check drinking at late hours. The objections from the police took time to be resolved as the Excise Department put its foot down and offered a point-wise rebuttal.

Allowing restaurants with bar licence to serve liquor till 2 a.m. on 50 days in a year means at the weekends and, during festive seasons, revelers can continue to drink till the wee hours. Under the old excise rules, bars could open till 1 a.m. on seven days in a year.

Walia said the move would curtail corruption.

“Corrupt officials moved in as soon as bars exceeded schedule timings. That practice would now end,” he said.

For the extended timings, restaurants with bar licences and five-star hotels would have to shell out more to the government. There are 252 licensed restaurants having bar facility and 47 hotels.

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