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Mrunal Manmay Dash

The Police and the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) are in the action mode over COVID norm violations in bars and restaurants in the Smart City.

A special squad has been formed by the Commissionerate Police to curb the menace of rogue bar owners who allegedly keep the businesses open till late hours flouting the pandemic guidelines in force.

The squad will keep an eye on the watering holes operating out of the city and report the illegalities to the higher ups so that action could be initiated against the erring entrepreneurs.

On the other hand, the strict enforcement by the police has not gone down well with the Bar and Restaurant Association which said that nightlife in the city holds key to the business. There is no point opening the shops if people are not allowed to venture out in the night, they alleged.

It is pertinent to mention here that at least five bars have been sealed by the BMC on charges of flouting govt Covid guidelines and five persons, including the owner of a bar and four others, have been arrested within a span of just 12 months.

Nevertheless, the BMC authorities have clarified that business in a bar is carried out during night.

Meanwhile, Bhubaneswar DCP Umashankar Dash said, “I urge everyone to adhere to COVID norms so that the transition is smooth enough. I request all business establishments to take care of the crowd during this Puja season."

Satya Mohanty, secreatry of the Bar and Restaurant Association in Bhubaneswar said, “We do not conduct business like others during day time.People come to us for a drink at night. I think the government should relax the norm a little to facilitate the bar owners. If the government does not allow us space to do business, where will the bar owners go.”

Anshuman Rath, Zonal Deputy Commissioner of the BMC said that not only the bars the BMC team has been keeping an eye on the restaurants as well.

It is pertinent to mention here that at least five bars have been sealed by the BMC for violating COVID norms since September 17. Similarly, recently, five bar employees had been arrested by the police on charges of attacking the BMC enforcement squad.

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