7 pm rule so far: Violators but no license seized

According to the Officer Commanding (OC) of Thimphu Police Station, Major Gyembo Penjor, several bar owners, snooker halls owners and shop keepers that have not adhered to the 7 pm shop closure rule were let off with warnings. The police have not seized any trade license.

He said that the people have gradually adapted to the preventive measure with better cooperation as compared to the time during the initial implementation phase. He said that there were instances when the shops would remain open for the customers who came in really late, and then the monitoring taskforce did allow some grace time till 7:30 pm.

“When we say 7:00 pm, we cannot be exact right down to the minute. After all, everyone is a human, and at times, we had to empathize. Nowadays, the customers too have been cooperative, and therefore, there are lesser number of such incidents where shops are open beyond 7:00 pm,” OC of Thimphu Police Station said.

Many of the grocery shop owners and local commuters that spoke to the paper said the 7pm rule is good for the community and that they will continue to cooperate and not pressure the government to lift the rule until it is safe to do so.

On the other hand, entertainment hub owners are really feeling the pinch and some of them stated that they might have to surrender their businesses if the ban continues for a long time. Some of the bar owners feel that it would be better if the timing was shifted to a bit later as most of them rely on nighttime customers.

Some of the business owners also questioned as to why the restaurants and bars that also sell alcohol can operate within protocols, but they are not allowed to do so. Among them a few of them said they want to diversify their business to at least earn some money during the idle time. One of the game center owners said that if she would be allowed to do food catering in place of her business for the time being then it would be really helpful to people like her.

OC said that advocacy on awareness and sensitization works are being carried out as per requirement by all the DeSsuups on patrol and to the police personnel along with the 6 community police centers within Thimphu. He said that there was a few instances of gambling and friendly get together, which were dealt with accordingly.

Major Gyembo Penjor said that the taskforce faces a few challenges, such as tracing the shops located in every nook and corner as well as the shortage of manpower to a certain extent. Due to the 7:00 pm rule implementation and lesser commuters in the town beyond that time, crime rate has declined, he added.

As per the government’s decision made public yesterday, shops are to be allowed to remain opened till 9 pm as relaxation measures start from 1 July.

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