Despite constant warnings and sensitization on shop closure by 9 pm, Thimphu police seized 22 business licenses belonging to bars, restaurants, grocery shops and snooker halls, within just a month’s time. Of the 22, one person is a repeat offender and all the license owners were released on bail by the court.
Until 19 November, the patrolling team, consisting of Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) personnel and DeSuups, warned the business owners who were caught operating after 9 pm. However, they failed to abide by the rules.
Most of the licenses were seized between 9 pm to 11 pm from mainly the core town area and Olakha. The police also had informers that alerted them about the shops operating past the 9pm closure rule.
Meanwhile, as of December, the RBP seized 10 licenses in other dzongkhags, with 7 licenses in Bumthang and one each from Samtse, Trongsa and Trashigang.
Police said, “Trade will decide on whether to cancel the licenses or to give them back.”
Police said that they have no choice than to seize the licenses to avoid any community transmission of COVID-19. The offenders, after being caught of the crime, give excuses like not being able to pay the commercial rent and some said they have customers coming for dinner at around 8:30 pm. Police said that the cases have been charge sheeted to court, whereby the court will decide on the penalty.
They will be charged for a breach of public order and tranquility, section 448 of the Penal Code of Bhutan (PCB) 2004.
A repeated offender might be charge higher than those who are a first time offenders.
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