In his letter which ET has seen, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said the excise department should issue the necessary permissions “considering revenue implications." “Bars will remain closed under the provisions of unlock guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs,” the letter said.
It also observed that Assam, Punjab and Rajasthan “have permitted service of liquor by licence holders under the excise rules at the restaurant and club tables and in the hotel rooms.”
People familiar with the matter said the recommendation by the excise department will be put forth to Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) for final approvals.
“We will open all our outlets in Delhi in a week if this goes through. Not being able to serve alcohol was our main pain point,” said Priyank Sukhija, chief executive of First Fiddle, which runs 15 outlets in Delhi across brands such as Lord of the Drinks, Tamasha and Warehouse Café, hoping the relaxation will be allowed without any hitch. “Restaurants are already allowed to open and offering a beer is safer than serving a mocktail or buttermilk. We met the excise commissioner on Friday and he seemed positive. We are keeping our fingers crossed.”
National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) president Anurag Katriar described the move as a logical next step and hopes it will be implemented soon. “Selling liquor is not a taboo. Liquor shops are anyway open. When people are being served on the table, where social distancing is already maintained, I don’t see an issue,” he said.
Tarun Thakral, COO of the Le Meridien hotel in Delhi said he is waiting for the standard operating procedures to come for Delhi hotels and for excise department's instructions. "There is a lot of investment that has gone into keeping the kind of liquor inventories that hotels have. I hope we are granted permissions soon," he said.
Riyaaz Amlani, chief executive of Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality, which runs brands such as Social and Smokehouse Deli, said as long as bars are not allowed to operate and customers are drinking at the table while maintaining social distancing, liquor permission should be granted.
“It will give restaurants much-needed additional revenue in these trying times. Without alcohol and social distancing and with reduced timings, we are looking at generating only about 30-35% of our previous revenues, which would make running restaurants more painful than staying shut,” he said.
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