BENGALURU: With the fizz gone out of their business, the wine merchants, who have been urging the State government to allow them to reopen bars and restaurants, have now reached out to the Prime Minister. Taking cognizance of the letter sent to the Prime Minister by the Federation of the Wine Merchants Association (FWMA), Karnataka, requesting him to allow the reopening of bars and restaurants “in entirety” in the State as was prior to the Lockdown-1, the Prime Minister’s Office has directed Karnataka to respond to the wine merchants association’s demand.
The PMO has written to the Chief Secretary to respond to the petitioner (Govindraj Hegde, principal secretary, FWMA) and upload the copy on the portal. The association has brought to the notice of the PMO that the Karnataka government has allowed sale of Indian Made Liquor (IML) but has not yet given permission for serving food along with IML in restaurants attached to the bar.
“In Karnataka, customers come to restobars and order for IML or beer along with food. This should be allowed in entirety as was before the lockdown, which was imposed on March 24,” the FWMA letter stated. The association has also drawn its notice regarding the change in business timings of liquor outlets in the State after they were re-opened in May.
“While the vegetarian restaurants and gymnasiums are allowed to run till late hours, the bars and restaurants are asked to close at 10.30 pm as against 11.30pm, which was their deadline prior to the lockdown,” the letter stated while requesting the PMO to “correct the anomalies immediately rather than waiting for the release of Unlock guidelines.”
The Karnataka Government was hoping to open pubs and bars from September 1, but it is waiting for the Unlock-5 guidelines from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The State Excise Department has consulted their counterparts in Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and New Delhi, where they have allowed serving of liquor in licensed outlets along with food with some caveats.