Sobering Monday: Liquor stores closed, dry day at bars

Several liquor stores and bars in Delhi remained closed on Monday even as the Delhi government granted them a one-month extension to liquidate stocks and ease the transition from private to government stores.

While the decision to grant the extension to the licenses was adopted by the Delhi cabinet on Sunday evening and by the LG office on Monday afternoon, the notification was only released in the evening. This meant that store owners as well as restaurants and bars were unsure if they could continue to serve and sell alcohol.

While stores had emptied most of their stock over the weekend, confusion over their operations remained as their licenses expired on Sunday. In a handful of stores that were open, shelves remained mostly bare.

“I went to two liquor stores near my house in the afternoon. While one was closed, the other had half the shutter down and its shelves were mostly bare. In any case, in recent days, only one or two brands of alcohol were available. It’s a complete mess,” said Raghav Singh (34), a resident of Jangpura Extension. Alcohol sales in areas such as Sarita Vihar, Connaught Place and Mayur Vihar remained closed.

In Connaught Place, restaurants that also serve alcohol posted signs outside the establishments, which either said “Dry Day” or that the bar was closed.

Two separate stores of a liquor store chain in Connaught Place were closed on Monday night. While the security guard outside one of the stores said the store was closed to customers all day, staff at the other store refused to speak. Another liquor store east of Kailash also shuttered.

At one of the restaurants, a member of staff said they were awaiting information from the government on when they could start serving alcohol again. “It’s closed today. We don’t know until when it will remain closed,” he said. At another restaurant, an employee said: “Today the bar is closed. We have not yet received instructions regarding alcohol service. Maybe we’ll know more later tonight. But from now on stock is available from us.

At a mall in Mayur Vihar, which has three liquor stores, all were closed.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had said on Saturday that all private shops in the city would be closed and government liquor sales would be restored. The new policy, which came into effect in November last year, had marked the government’s exit from the sale of alcohol. While this policy was extended at the end of March, the extension ended on July 31, Sunday.

This also applies to restaurants, clubs and bars, since their licenses have also expired alongside retail liquor vendors selling IMFL.

Implementation problems due to which licensees had started to exit the market, followed by allegations of corruption, prompted the Delhi government to reinstate the old policy for a period of at least six months.

For now, all private sales in the city will close after August 31 and government sales will reopen from September 1.

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