- The Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia asked the department on Thursday to extend the closing time of restaurants, and to ensure that no establishment is subjected to harassment if it stays open till 3am, as per an official filing
In an attempt to augment the national capital’s nightlife once again and giving a shot in the arm to the hospitality industry that is still reeling from the pandemic, as well as increasing employment opportunities, the Delhi government has said that it has granted permission to all pubs and restaurants serving liquor to stay open till 3am.
A formal order is likely to be issued soon, people familiar with the matter said, adding that the government is coordinating with Delhi Police and other agencies for the safe implementation of the new timings, according to Hindustan Times report. As of now most, pubs and restaurants, with a few exceptions, are allowed to stay open till 1am.
The Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who holds the excise portfolio, asked the department on Thursday to extend the closing time of restaurants, and to ensure that no establishment is subjected to harassment if it stays open till 3am.
As per the official file signed by Manish Sisodia, “as part of our policy of ease of doing business and also to bring some cultural and nightlife activity in the national capital, which will further enhance the employment opportunity of our people, the Delhi government approved the New Excise Policy in November 2021 allowing the operating timings of restaurants up to 3am in consonance with the operational timings of NCR cities including Gurugram and Noida. The final implementation is being coordinated with the other agencies including Delhi Police.”
“In the meantime, the excise department of Delhi, for all practical purposes, [is] to consider the closing time of restaurants as 3am, and no restaurant will be subject to any harassment on account of operation up to 3am,” the note added.
In another related development, Gurugram on Friday allowed pubs to remain open 24×7 while in Noida, pubs can operate till 2am. In Gurugram, pubs were allowed to allowed to open till 6am last year but the new policy announced by the Haryana government allows such outlets to remain open 24×7. In Noida, since April 2019, all pubs can operate till 1am and this can be extended to 2am for a fee.
Though Delhi’s new excise policy was implemented on November 17, 2021, the change in operating hours will not kick in until a specific order is issued. For example, another key change in the policy — lowering the drinking age from 25 to 21 — is yet to be implemented because the Delhi government is yet to amend the Delhi Excise Act, according to the Hindustan Times report.
An excise official said the government is coordinating with Delhi Police to implement the move. “Necessary action will be taken after taking all stakeholders on board,” said the official, who asked not to be named. While Delhi Police has not issued an official response, a senior officer said they were not aware of any such order yet.
It is important to note that, “the Delhi government has not consulted with the Delhi Police while issuing the said order. When the order was notified, the Delhi Police had raised concerns related to law and order, traffic disorder, as well as safety and security of citizens, especially women,” said a senior officer, who is aware of the matter.
There have been demands to extend the operating hours since the excise policy was implemented last November, and a group of representatives of the National Restaurant Association of India met Sisodia on Thursday morning to urge the government to push the change through.
Just to be sure, the 24-hour service of liquor is allowed in restaurants inside five-star hotels, and those located in the arrival or departure terminals of IGI airport. Restaurants serving liquor in Delhi need multiple licences from different agencies to operate in Delhi, but only the excise and police licences specify timing restrictions.
The health, and shop and establishment licences given by the municipal corporations, the food safety licence given by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, and the fire licence given by Delhi Fire Services, don’t have any timing specifications. Restaurateurs welcomed the Delhi government’s move.
“Delhi is truly a world city, the capital of our nation, and the most visited city too. Tourists as well as the residents truly deserve a global experience. With longer office working hours and the commute, there is always a paucity of time for patrons to have a relaxed evening. Extending service of liquor in a restaurant will provide relief from binge drinking. This will increase jobs in the hospitality sector, and more revenues to the city’s exchequer… While some will question the law-and-order aspects, one has to realise that when there are people on the street and the city is vibrant, there is less crime. Look at examples of global cities and even our own airports, railway stations which operate 24/7,” NRAI’s Rahul Singh said.
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