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“A different experience”… Delhi pubs reopening in the COVID-19 scenario..

New Delhi: Pubs have reopened in Delhi… But the story is entirely different now…A screening device is aimed at you as soon as you enter the bar, and you are required to clean your hands with a sanitiser kept handy. The staff at the entrance asks you for your number and notes it down. As you reach your seat, you realise the music is mellow — you can groove gently to it, but it won’t invite you to the dance floor.

There will be a ping on your phone and you find the menu has been WhatsApped to you. A waiter arrives geared up in a mask, face shield and gloves and you can place your order. Your drinks arrive and, despite the differences, an old familiar feeling sneaks up on you. There are few things that match up to drinks with friends at a cosy place.

Pubs and bars across Delhi reopened, although at 50 per cent capacity in line with social-distancing guidelines. The decision was taken by the Lieutenant Governor. There will be a review by September 30. The SoP issued by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority states that the premises should be sanitized at frequent intervals. Standing customers are banned, and violations could mean sealing of premises or the cancellation of their licences.

Returning patrons were clearly happy about the reopening of the pubs, but the turnout was still low on the first night, as on a survey through three popular bars — QBA, My Bar Headquarters, and The Matchbox — at two of Delhi’s prime party destinations, Connaught Place and Hauz Khas Village. At The most only 12-20 people had visited between opening time at noon and 9.30 pm, while the capacity of the bar is about 40-50 people.

“There will be no gigs, no loud music. The DJs have been instructed to keep it as low as possible because, once people start dancing, it gets uncontrollable,” said the manager of QBA. The My Bar Headquarters, one of the more popular pubs, said they are swearing off loud music, live gigs and game nights for now. The bars are also a little too hot right now. Health Ministry guidelines for Covid-19 require AC temperature to be set at 24-30°C, with adequate cross ventilation — which means windows have to be kept open.

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