Restaurants serving liquor in Delhi have something to cheer about amid the crisis caused by COVID. The Delhi government has decided to adjust the liquor licence fees they had paid in advance for the period affected by the COVID lockdown against the payment to be made for the second half of the financial year.
The decision comes in response to the industry body, the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), seeking some relief as they battle loss of business due to the pandemic.
In an order issued on September 24, the Delhi government said as per Rule 49 of the Delhi Excise Rules, 2010, has decided that the licence for the period from the date of the lockdown till the opening of the licensed premises will be “treated as deemed cancellation of licence and accordingly, the licence fee paid in advance by the licensees shall be adjusted for the corresponding future period payable for the half year beginning 1st October 2020.”
The licence fee, paid in advance for six months, ranges from Rs 9 to 45 lakh per year. The amount depends on the size of the restobar and the number of seats.
Restobars had paid the fee for the period from April 1 to September 30 in advance. The COVID lockdown, announced by prime minister Narendra Modi, began on March 24 and continued for well over two months. During this period, almost all business establishments, including most retail outlets, were shut, causing a severe financial stress for owners.
Restobars in Delhi were allowed to resume functioning from September 9 after the COVID lockdown. Many owners had requested the government to adjust the fees already period against future payments as the businesses were completely closed for almost five months.
Restaurant owners have welcomed the decision. “We are thankful to the government for providing much-needed relief. We have been demanding this for a while because the licence fee was paid for this financial year, but sale of liquor started only recently. Restaurants are already bleeding as we are operating at 50% seating capacity and the turnout is also low right now,” Manpreet Singh, the treasurer of NRAI and the owner of Zen restaurant in Connaught Place, said, reported Hindustan Times.