Karnataka’s 4th unlock stage allows for the opening of bars and restaurants after 5 months of remaining shut. Safety has been kept in mind.
On 31st August, the Karnataka government announced that restaurants including pubs and bars would be reopened in the state. The government issued guidelines for the same which allow bars, pubs and restaurants to function at 50% capacity only. The excise department issued an order that allows such establishments to serve alcohol . Guidelines were issued that allow for drinks to be served only at the table of customers. Earlier this year, an order was issued allowing such establishments to sell drinks at MRP. This order was no longer in effect after the ruling came into action on 1st September.
Citizens of Karnataka and its capital city, Bengaluru breathed a sigh of relief when the government announced the loosening of restrictions on culinary establishments. With Bars, nightclubs and micro-breweries now open in the state, it seems to have brought with it a return to “normalcy” in the state. However, the decision does not come without its own caveats. A number of guidelines have to be followed by bars and restaurants which include screening of employees and customers for COVID-19 symptoms, encouraging take-away instead of dine-in and maintaining social distancing norms while following all other safety protocols. The guidelines read, "Adequate personnel will be deployed at establishments to enforce social distancing norms."
Further, the government stated that restaurants which fall in containment zones will continue to remain closed until further notice.The state has allowed for the opening of establishments with CL-4, CL-6a, CL-7, CL-7a, CL-7b, CL-9, CL-17 and CL-18 licenses. Spitting and smoking in public areas and establishments will be strictly prohibited. Face masks and hand sanitizers will also be mandatory within the establishment. A distance of 6ft will be maintained between tables and contactless or digital payments have been encouraged to prevent contact. Any children’s play areas and gaming zones within such establishments will, however, remain shut.
Even with adequate safety measures, one cannot rule out the possibility of disease transmission. Given the cases in India are rising by the day, the move by the Karnataka government may not be the best decision at the moment. However, from an economic standpoint, the decision will help revive the business that was lost in the last 5 months. Agreeability with the masses is another question. Many restaurants are unaware whether people are ready to come back to restaurants to dine given the pandemic and the rising cases.