It’s party time in Karnataka, WB as pubs, bars resume dine-in service

Precautionary measures such as social distancing, wearing masks and frequent sanitisation should be followed as part of the Unlock-4 guidelines

Restobars in Delhi were allowed to resume functioning from September 9 after the COVID lockdown. Representational image: iStock

The Karnataka and West Bengal government have permitted pubs, bars and resto-bars to resume dine-in services as part of Unlock-4 relaxations starting September 1.

The move comes amid rising COVID-cases in the states following the Centre’s Unlock-4 guidelines which laid out Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on preventive measures to be taken in restaurants to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Precautionary measures such as social distancing, wearing masks and frequent sanitisation should be followed as part of the guidelines. That said, dance floors (in Kolkata) will remain out of bound.

The state governments of Assam, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan had already allowed dine-in services in pubs and bars.

Advertisement

As of other south Indian states, the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments are yet to issue any order in this regard.

“We eagerly await the government order specifying the standard operating procedures so that we can resume our business,” said Narsing Rao, the owner of a chain of pubs and bars in Hyderabad.

There is a sense of cautious optimism among the bar owners about the future of their business. “We are hopeful that the things will get back to near normal by December,” says Rao.

Given the continued surge in the Coronavirus cases in Telangana, particularly in and around Hyderabad, the footfalls might be very low initially.

Several bar owners have sought relaxation in terms of renewals of their licenses. “We have lost six months of business. Our bar licenses are up for renewal on September 30. Given the fact that we did not have any cash flow during the last five months, we hope that the government will give us a blanket extension of six months,” said Shaaz Mehmood of Olive Group of restaurants.

In Karnataka, Excise minister H Nagesh said that owing to restricted sales over the past four of months due to the COVID crisis, the state incurred an estimated loss to the tune of ₹1,435 crore.

“The losses would have crossed ₹3,000 crore if the state had put a complete ban since May. But since we allowed the sales to happen with a certain condition, the losses came down to ₹1,435 crore in the last four months,” the Excise Minister said.

The excise department earns the second-highest amount of revenue per day after the commercial taxes department. The fiscal target for the remain at ₹22,700 crore as against previous year’s earnings of ₹19,943 crore.

The government had completely shut down the liquor sales in March during the first phase of the COVID lockdown. But in May, with the dwindling state revenues, and Supreme Court suggested that states should look at home-delivery of liquor as an option.

So, Karnataka allowed MRP outlets to open for takeaway. Liquor sales touched record highs — ₹45 crore on day 1, ₹197 crore on day 2 and ₹231 crore day 3, after the state permitted liquor sales post lockdown for the first time in May.

This was followed by permission for bars, microbreweries, pubs to offer takeaway service but not in-house service.

Starting today, the restrictions in Karnataka are removed for license holders of CL-4 (Club), CL-6A (Star Hotel), CL-7 (Hotel and Boarding House), CL-7A (Tourist Hotel), CL-7B (Tourist Hotel with Bear License), CL-9 (Bar), CL-17 (Duty-Free Shop at Airports), CL-18 (Bar at International Airports), Wine tavern, pubs and microbreweries.

CATCH US ON: