In a move aimed at making the nightlife more happening, the Delhi government has taken a policy decision to allow bars to serve liquor till 3 AM, officials said on Friday.

The government has issued necessary directions to the Excise department and an order is likely to be issued soon in accordance with the Excise Policy 2021-22, said a senior government officer.

”Bars at restaurants are now allowed to operate till 1 AM. The Excise department will work with other agencies, including police, if the timing is extended till 3 AM,” he said.

The Excise Policy that came into force from November 2021 recommended that the timings of operation of bars may be brought at par with neighbouring cities.

In the NCR towns of Gurgaon and Faridabad in Haryana, bars are allowed to open till 3 AM. However, in Noida and Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, bars are open till 1 AM.

There are around 550 independent restaurants in Delhi that serve Indian and foreign liquor on being granted L-17 licence from the Excise department.

The restaurants within hotels and motels, numbering around 150, are already allowed to serve liquor round the clock. Such restaurants are granted L-16 licence by the Excise department. Kabir Suri, the president of the National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI), said the hospitality sector paid a heavy licence fee but suffered losses as timings were not changed according to the Excise Policy 2021-22.

”We had approached the Delhi government with the demand that the timings for opening of bars be extended till 3 AM as it is recommended in the policy,” Suri said, welcoming the move.

The Excise Policy calls for creating a conducive environment and improving conditions for smooth business.

Many of the conditions related to Excise operations in hotels, clubs and restaurants need to be in sync with the present-day business and social perspectives, says the policy.

In order to meet the twin goal of increasing Excise revenue and providing favourable environment and conditions to the licensees of hotel, club and restaurant segment, the policy made several recommendations.

The recommendations included rationalisation of licence fee, lowering legal age of drinking from 25 years to 21 years, and doing away with the archaic rules related to not allowing music in independent restaurants.

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