The Delhi High Court on Tuesday allowed the serving of herbal flavoured hookahs in the restaurants and bars in the national capital saying Covid-induced restrictions cannot go on forever.
Justice Rekha Palli, while hearing a batch of pleas filed by owners of restaurants and bars challenging the Delhi government’s ban on serving of the herbal flavoured hookah, granted the permission and clarified it as an ‘interim relief’ on the assurance of the petitioners who have submitted that they will follow Covid guidelines.
The petitioners–Breath Fine Lounge and Bar, TOS, R High Speedbar and Lounge, Verandah Moonshine, and Sixth Empirica Lounge in West Punjabi Bagh– had approached the court against the Delhi government order prohibiting and excluding the sale or service of herbal flavoured hookahs in restaurant/bar being run by them.
The court observed that the restrictions imposed against the backdrop of Covid cannot go on forever and it cannot be at the cost of livelihood. Opposing the petitions, the Delhi government said allowing hookah consumption in public places may spread the infection since people would be sharing it.
However, the court pointed out that cinemas have been opened and all other activities have resumed and it would not be appropriate to keep the petitioners hanging.
The bench also said, in case of any change in Covid-19 situation, the respondent Delhi government will be at liberty to move court.
In August last year, in a move to control the outbreak of COVID-19, the Delhi government had prohibited the use of hookah in public places. The rationale behind prohibiting the hookah was that it involves sharing its mouthpieces and hoses, which could facilitate the transmission of COVID-19.
Besides, as it’s smoked in closed spaces and social settings, the aerosols carrying the virus generated by an infected person could further spread the infection among people sitting firmly to the infected person.
The directive also pointed out that smokers are more vulnerable to be infected by the Covid-19 as the “act of smoking” increases the possibility of transmitting the virus from hand to mouth.
“The fingers and cigarettes are in contact with lips which increase the possibility of transmission of the virus from hand to mouth,” the order said.