A state finance ministry order issued late on Thursday, which officials say is aimed at curbing drinking in open public areas at night, has banned all liquor stores from selling liquor beyond 9 pm, as against 11 pm earlier.

Menino D'Souza, commissioner the state excise department, which is in charge of implementing the order, said restaurants and bars too come under the ambit of the state finance ministry directive. "Bars and restaurants can now serve alcohol only up to 1 am, unlike 5 am earlier. Our regulation time for serving liquor is 11 pm. To stay open up to 1 am, restaurants and bars will have to take a special licence," Menino said.

Earlier, on payment of a special, hefty licence fee, bars and restaurants had been allowed to run until 5 am. Only five-star restaurants and establishments under the A, B or C category have now been allowed to keep their bars open until 5 am.

A finance ministry official says the move will keep at bay the quintessential low budget tourists, who flock to Goa for cheap liquor. With Goa holding the envious reputation of selling the cheapest liquor in the country, the state over the last few years has been witnessing large groups of all-male tourists from nearby states. The tourism department officials claim that they have been unflattering to the state's profile.


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