BENGALURU: The government is thinking of permanently extending its deadline for bars from 11.30 pm to 1 am.
That means people don’t have to gulp down their last drink by 11.30 pm: the police will not herd them out as they do now. Bars and restaurants serving liquor now close by 11.30 pm on weekdays and 1 am on weekends. The police had, however, kept the deadline at 1 am for a full week between Christmas and January 1.
“During the week, no untoward incident took place, so we are looking at extending the deadline for all days,’’ Home Minister Dr G Parameshwara told Express.
He was quick to add that no decision had been taken yet. “The police only provide security. We have to discuss it with the Excise Department, which we will do soon,’’ he explained.
Sources in the government told Express that the proposal was likely to have Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s backing. “When senior police officers approached him, he was all for extending the deadline for the new year celebrations. If the police are able to provide security, Siddaramaiah will support such a move,’’ a source said.
Police have over the years said they are short-staffed, and cannot provide security for people visiting bars and restaurants past midnight. However, they have been experimenting with an extended deadline on weekends for about a year.
“Despite the staff crunch, the police are capable of providing security. We have a 30 per cent shortage at the constabulary level but the recruitment process has begun,’’ Parameshwara said.
In Real Terms
Extension of the deadline doesn’t automatically mean all drinking joints will stay open past midnight.
Only those with late-night patrons can afford to keep open. The extension makes no difference to the others.
The trade bodies are happy with the development: they believe customers find it difficult to unwind with a 11.30 pm deadline looming.
“An extended deadline gives them more time and binge
drinking will come down,’’ said Ashish Kothare, Head of the Bangalore chapter of the National Restaurants Association of India.
An extension by 90 minutes makes watering holes more welcoming to people who work late, but it may not result in a spike in business, he contended.
No Extra Cost
Excise Commissioner S R Umashankar says if the government decides to extend the deadline, bars and restaurants do not have to take any separate permission or pay extra for it.
“Currently, they are allowed to stay open till 11.30 pm on weekdays. Even for an additional hour, they have to take a day’s licence by paying Rs 11,500,” the Excise Commissioner said.