The Maharashtra government has imposed the night curfew in municipal corporation areas (cities) from December 22 to January 5 as a precautionary step amid concerns over detection of a new variant of the coronavirus in Britain.
Increased patrolling by police, heightened vigilance and curbs on timings of bars and pubs are back in the wake of night curfew to check the spread of COVID-19. Mumbai police personnel have been going around streets requesting people to stay indoors as the night curfew rule – 11 pm to 6 pm – came into effect from Tuesday.
As 11 pm is the deadline specified for the establishments used for entertainment and recreational purposes, people will not be able to celebrate the new year at 12.
Meanwhile, hotels and restaurants in Maharashtra have announced they will be celebrating New Year's eve in keeping with Thailand Standard Time (TST), to comply with the night curfew imposed by the state government in all the municipalities.
At 10.30 pm on December 31, it will be a New Year in Thailand.
The Hotels and Restaurants Association of Western India (HRAWI) - a 69-year-old body - has issued a statement that this year pub's, restaurants and hotels will wind up New Year's eve celebrations an hour and a half before midnight, following Thailand Standard Time (TST), which is 1.5 hours ahead of Indian Standard Time. Thus, when it is 10.30 pm in India, it is midnight in Thailand.
Hoteliers and restaurant owners are confident that business will improve in the last week of December with or without the curfew. As a result, many member establishments of the association are also working towards aligning celebrations with those in Thailand and may even host virtual celebrations synchronised with them.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has imposed a curfew in Mumbai from 11 pm and restaurants and pubs have been ordered to pull down their shutters by 11.30 pm, at the latest.
"Mumbaikars want celebrations and we will be providing it to them while ensuring all norms and safety measures are followed, which is why celebrations will be held earlier this year and the timing will be better as our patrons will be able to get home earlier and bring in the new year with their families," said Sherry Bhatia, president, HRAWI.
The hospitality sector has suffered immense losses in the lockdown and it has only been two months since they have been allowed to restart their operations in a limited manner. Hotels and restaurants across the state are still struggling to recover the losses incurred in the lockdown period.
"This year, we will be broadcasting the celebrations in Australia and Thailand on giant screens of our restaurants, as we have friends who run businesses there. We will also be providing offers on food and drinks on that day," said Jayant Malik, co-owner of a city restaurant.
Hotel owners have also confirmed that their business is on the verge of improvement.
"A lot of people have started to come to restaurants now, hence we are hopeful that by the end of this year, we will be able to recover the losses incurred," said the manager of a city pub.
"We have braved the storm of the pandemic and will now be welcoming Mumbaikars for the celebrations on December 31 with hope and optimism," said Pradeep Shetty, senior vice president, HRAWI.
(With inputs from Pratip Acharya of FPJ )