The move comes days after the Telangana High Court directed the state government to impose restrictions on public gatherings in view of New Year’s Eve and other festivities.

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news NYE Tuesday, December 28, 2021 - 20:22

Even as other states gear up to impose restrictions on New Year’s Eve citing concerns over the Omicron variant, Telangana has granted permission to retail alcohol stores to remain open until midnight on December 31, 2021. Bars and other restaurants that serve liquor can remain open till 1 am, the state government further said.

In a memo signed by Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar, the Revenue Department said that "after careful consideration of the matter," permission was being accorded to the Director, Prohibition & Excise, Hyderabad, "to permit license holders of 2B (Bars), C1 (In-house), EP1 (Event permit) and TD1(In-house) licensees of Tourism Development Corporation, to serve liquor up to 1 am on the intervening night of December 31, 2021 and January 1, 2022." The memo further added that those with A4 licenses (Retail shops) can remain open up to midnight on December 31, subject to observance of COVID-19 safety protocol.

The move came as a surprise as it came just days after the Telangana High Court has directed the state government to impose restrictions on public gatherings in view of the festive season. Hearing a batch of public interest litigations related to COVID-19, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice N Tukaramji had asked the Telangana government to restrict public gatherings during Christmas, New Year and Sankranthi celebrations. The Union government too, has advised states to consider imposing local restrictions. States have been advised to impose night curfews and ensure strict regulation of large gatherings.

On Monday, December 27, twelve cases of the Omicron variant were reported in Telangana, taking the total number of cases of the new coronavirus variant in the state to 55, the Health Department said. Of the 12 cases, 10 were passengers who arrived at the Hyderabad international airport from countries other than those declared "at risk" by the Union government, while two were contacts of patients who tested positive for the variant earlier, it said in a bulletin. According to the bulletin, 10 among the 55 have recovered from the infection. It said 19 samples are awaited with regard to their Omicron status.

Meanwhile, Telangana on Monday reported 182 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the tally to 6.80 lakh, while the death toll rose to 4,023 with one more fatality. The number of active cases in the state was 3,417, the bulletin said.

With PTI inputs