The Delhi government's proposal to reopen liquor bars - that have been shut for over six months because of the coronavirus pandemic - has been approved by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, sources said. Pubs, restaurants and hotels that have the required licenses can also serve liquor, they said, adding the order is likely to be implemented from September 9.
All the businesses serving liquor at their premises will have to strictly adhere to the standard operating procedures laid down by the Central government - including the usage of masks and maintaining social distance - to arrest the transmission of the virus that has killed over 67,000 people in the country so far.
The revenue-strapped Delhi had been reporting close to 4,000 cases daily in June, exerting tremendous pressure on the health infrastructure. In July and most of August, the daily cases slumped to 600-1,500. Last week, however, Delhi's daily cases crossed the 2,000-mark again.
Opening up the economy completely had been one of the oft-repeated demands of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who maintains the national capital now has adequate health infrastructure to deal with the influx of coronavirus patients.
The Delhi government had opened liquor shops with restrictions weeks ago, but bars and pubs had remained shut.
Tax proceeds from the sale of liquor is one of the major sources of revenue for the government.
Tax revenue of states and the Central governments has taken a severe hit because of months of economic inactivity due to coronavirus lockdown. The country's gross domestic product or GDP contracted 23.9 per cent in the April-June period - much worse than economists' estimates.
The Centre is also hard-pressed on paying goods and services dues to states. Last month, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the coronavirus pandemic was "an act of God" and an unforeseen factor that affected GST collections.
Last month, the Centre allowed resuming Metro rail services in Delhi and other places as it released its Unlock4 guidelines. The service in the national capital, which catered to lakhs of passengers every day, will resume from September 7, in a graded manner.