From allowing bars to stay open until the wee hours of the morning and serving alcohol in open-air balconies and terraces, how Delhi is revving up its nightlife.
Delhi government’s new Excise Policy 2021-22 which was announced on Monday has been greeted with much cheer by bar owners, restauranteurs, and hoteliers.
As per the new policy, the bars in hotels, restaurants, and clubs have been allowed to operate till 3 am and can also serve liquor in open spaces such as terraces and balconies.
Referring to the policy as a ‘welcome move’, Zorawar Kalra, Founder and MD of Massive Restaurants which owns brands like Farzi Café, Made In Punjab, Swan, and Bo Thai said, “The change in policy will have a major effect in ensuring the revival of the restaurant industry and fast-tracking the recovery process for the entire industry.”
He further added: “The operational time increase to 3 am will help make Delhi into a major tourist attraction. It will also help in providing greater employment in the sector as an additional shift will be required. All the stakeholders involved in the process, that is the government, the consumer, the restaurateurs, and the restaurant employees will benefit from this as there will be greater revenue, greater taxes, and greater employment opportunities.”
Meenakshi Singh who is the co-owner of Sidecar, one of the leading bars in the city hailed the move as progressive. “Our costs are very high with excise duties and taxes. Extended timings will help recover our costs.” She also adds that Delhi as a city likes to go out late at night and the new timings will be appreciated by the customers. “It’s also a level-playing field for us standalone bars now because earlier hotels were allowed to be open till 4 am while we had to shut down by 1 am.”
Singh believes that the later the nightlife in the city, the safer it is. “When everything shuts down by 10 pm, there is an eerie silence by 11 pm. If restaurants and bars are open till late, the city is alive, making it that much safer.”
Singh says that the Delhi government has been making all the right moves. First, it brought down the official drinking age from 25 to 21 in the city and now the new excise policy is beneficial for the industry. Also, the government gave them a 6-month excise waiver last year during the lockdown and has given them a two-month waiver this year.
The new Excise Policy aims at boosting the city’s revenues. The new policy document points to excise as an important source of revenue while noting that the present excise revenue generation is at a sub-optimal level. Other changes introduced in the policy include walk-in experience for customers at alcohol shops, discounts on MRP, promoting microbreweries.
Moreover, under the new policy, the government will be out of the retail liquor trade. It plans to close state-run shops and promote private players in the national capital.
Instead of hole-in-the-wall liquor stores, every liquor outlet in the city will provide a walk-in experience to its customers who will have multiple choices of brands, and the entire selection and sale process will be completed within the premises. What’s more, such stores will be air-conditioned and will have glass doors. And customers will not be allowed to crowd outside.
There is further good news for Delhiites who are fond of draught beer. They will be able to fill their bottles with freshly brewed beer from any microbrewery in the city. The policy allows microbreweries to supply draught beer to bars. The price of liquor brands will also be revised. It will be decided after taking inputs from the retail stores and taking into account the price of the product in the neighbouring states such as Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan, according to the policy document.