Haryana allows restaurants and hotels to serve alcohol at tables; bars to remain shut

Liquor bottles being carried in a gunny bag for illegal sale in Bihar. Police seized it showing how the bootleggers are adopting new methods to smuggle liqour for sale in dry Bihar India on Sunday Jan 13,2019.(Photo by Santosh Kumar/Hindustan Times)
Liquor bottles being carried in a gunny bag for illegal sale in Bihar. Police seized it showing how the bootleggers are adopting new methods to smuggle liqour for sale in dry Bihar India on Sunday Jan 13,2019.(Photo by Santosh Kumar/Hindustan Times)
Updated on Aug 28, 2020 07:55 AM IST
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By Archana Mishra, Gurugram

The Haryana excise and taxation department on Thursday allowed restaurants and hotels to serve liquor at tables along with food, although bars will continue to remain closed. In an order issued by the department, restaurant and hotel owners have been asked to get their liquor licences renewed for the current financial year. The decision has been taken a week after Delhi made a similar move.

In renewing the licence, the state has also decided to give a 20% rebate to those licencees who will deposit the fee for third quarter (October till December) and fourth quarter (January till March 2021) within the next 10 days. Currently, the annual liquor license fee is 18 lakh per annum.

In the state, restaurants were permitted to resume operations at 50% capacity from June 8. But they were not allowed to serve alcohol. In July, the excise department allowed only star-rated hotels in the city to serve liquor in rooms. The permission was granted to three-star, four-star and five-star hotels, while restaurants, pubs and bars were prohibited. At that time, for hoteliers, one-third of the licence fee was waived off, bringing it down to 2 lakh for one-quarter.

Aruna Singh, deputy excise and taxation commissioner (east), said that the recent move will give the much-needed boost to the hospitality industry. “After Punjab, Rajasthan and Delhi, Haryana too has decided to permit liquor being served at the table. Bars will remain closed following the guidelines by the Union ministry of home affairs. The licence renewal process for the second quarter could not be conducted due to the lockdown. Therefore, the licence holders can get their licences renewed for the second quarter which ends on September 31. Further, a 20% relaxation will be given to those paying fees for third and fourth quarter together.”

Restaurant owners, however, have expressed concerns over state government’s decision keep shops and restaurants shut on weekends, which, they say, would impact their business.

Sharad Batra, co-founder, Café Delhi Heights, said, “There is an intention on the part of the government to give a breather to restaurants and hotels. The decision is a welcome move to further revive the hospitality industry, which is one of the biggest revenue generator. Even the decision to give rebate will help the owners even if they have to take loans from the bank to pay the licence fees.”

The only drawback Batra sees in the current situation is the weekend lockdown imposed in Gurugram. “The business was already impacted in the second quarter due to a nationwide lockdown. Now, Haryana has ordered to keep malls and markets to shut on weekends except those dealing in essential goods. Nearly, 60% of the monthly revenue, which is generated on weekend, is being affected. Our biggest worry has been that if lockdown is imposed again with increase in Covid-19 cases, how are we going to survive?”

Sameer Dhar, owner of Nowhere Terrace BrewPub Cafe at Crosspoint mall, agreed with Batra. “The entire sector has incurred loss this year. Therefore, paying fees for the third and fourth quarter would be challenging, especially when the state government is not allowing us to work on Saturdays and Sundays,” said Dhar.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2021