Supporting the decision of Kerala government to shut down bars in Kerala as a mission to turn the state alcohol free by 2023, Kerala High Court decided to close 700 bars in a go. The court has exempted five star hotels to serve liquor and only allowed heritage and four-star properties to serve it. Bar owners and hoteliers who challenged the order earlier in the High Court now decided to move to the Supreme Court.
As per the verdict liquor bars in around 33 four-star hotels, 21 five-star hotels and eight heritage properties can function, because a complete prohibition could lead to a monetary loss of around Rs. 9,000 crore a year of the state. Now the government would look after the rehabilitation of at least 25,000 bar hotel workers who would lose their jobs as a result of the ban. Sale of alcohol is the key revenue generator in Kerala. According to bar owners, ban of alcohol in Kerala would reduce its charm of tourist inflow and people will opt for other destinations like Mumbai and Goa.
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy considers the decision as a ‘welcome move’ and stated that the state aims a total prohibition of liquor in a phased manner. By not renewing the license of bar owners, the UDF government has shut down around 400 bars since March.