Liquor stores open after 40 days of confinement, social distancing rules taken for a walk

NEW DELHI: After forty days in the national shutdown implemented to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, India allowed liquor stores to open on Monday, resulting in chaotic scenes in all cities.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs had relaxed closing restrictions last week, allowing liquor stores to be opened across the country and also asked people to strictly follow social distancing guidelines when buying liquor.

However, the commotion broke out outside of many liquor vendors as dozens of people flocked there to buy liquor after more than a month. Officials had painstakingly drawn chalk circles for alcoholic drinkers to stand up, but social distancing efforts were thwarted as people gathered from early morning.

Close liquor sales: urge Delhi RWAs; suggest odd even formula

Almost 150 spirit The stores opened in the national capital in the third phase of closing on Monday. Long queues were seen outside spirit stores in Lajpat Nagar, Lado Sarai, which caused traffic jams in the area. the spirit shopping at Sheikh Sarai Phase 1 had to lower its blind, as the crowd became unmanageable. Residents help people started to gather outside spirit shops from 8.30 a.m. Many were without masks, violating social distancing guidelines, said a Malviya Nagar resident.

The Resident Welfare Associations (RWA's) in the city have urged the government to immediately close down all spirit vends and review arrangements. Some even suggested the Delhi government to first review the situation and open the vends in proper phased manner to ensure that no social distancing norms are flouted.

"The government can adopt odd-even formula to control crowds, can think about home delivery of spirit on lines of the West Bengal government, can introduce rationing per person to prevent hoarding or black marketing," said Rajiv Kakria, member of the RWA of Greater Kailash 1.

One such unique suggestion came from the General Secretary of Green Park Extension RWA, who suggested to rope in RWAs to distribute spirit . "Even RWA's can be roped in for distribution of spirit ," Puri said.

In Rajasthan, provide mobile phone numbers to buy alcoholic beverages.

A large number of people were seen queuing up outside spirit shops in different parts of Rajasthan on Monday 8 am onwards although the scheduled time to open the shops was 10 am. At some places, people were seen maintaining social distancing while in other places, social distancing went for a toss with people eagerly jumping the queue. Police personnel were deployed at every shop in the urban areas to ensure customers were given sanitisers. Also, the excise department ordered that the mobile numbers of these customers be taken for any future action if required.

'No mask, no spirit ' policy in Goa

Liquor shops opened on Monday in Goa after more than a month. An official said people observed while standing in queues outside these shops. "Wine shops across Goa opened on Monday but there was no rush as such by people. We have adopted 'no mask, no spirit ' policy to ensure that social distancing norms are followed strictly," said Goa Liquor Traders' Association president Dattaprasad Naik. Goa has about 1,300 wine shops that have been closed since the national lockdown came into force on March 25.

Maha: Queues outside spirit shops amid confusion on opening

Tipplers queued up outside spirit shops in Dahisar, Matunga, Santacruz, Malwani, Kandivali and other places since early hours of Monday, but found the outlets closed. In some areas, police announced that the spirit shops will not open on Monday and asked people to go back home. Similar scenes were witnessed in Pune also. A spirit shop owner said that they got a circular from the excise department on Sunday evening, asking not to open the outlets. However, a day earlier, Maharashtra government had allowed shops of non-essential items, including spirit , to open Monday onwards.

Crowding outside spirit shops across Andhra Pradesh

People flocked outside various spirit shops across Andhra Pradesh in large numbers, flouting social distancing guidelines at several places. Crowds were witnessed at Porumamilla village of Kadapa district and Nuzividu road of Hanuman Junction town in Krishna district. People were seen gathered outside spirit shops in Ibrahimpatnam Mandal of the district but were later dispersed by the police. Muppalla village of Chandarlapadu Mandal, where a COVID-19 case was reported, also witnessed a huge crowd at the spirit store. The village is now declared an orange zone.

Tipplers throng spirit shops in Karnataka; police resorts to caning

Hundreds of spirit shops reopened for brisk business, as tipplers stood in queues hours before their shutters were pulled up in Bengaluru, Karnataka. Sensing trouble on the first day of sale due to heavy rush, police personnel have been deployed at several spirit shops in Bengaluru, Hassan, Mandya, Mysuru and Raichur to prevent untoward incident and ensure law and order. "Our men had to resort to caning customers at Anekal on the southern outskirts of Bengaluru, as there was sudden rush and all hell broke loose when the long queue broke up," a police control room official said.

Chhattisgarh to start home delivery of spirit to avoid rush at shops

Meanwhile in Chhattisgarh, the state excise department, which has allowed spirit outlets to open from 8 am to 7 pm, is working on starting home delivery of spirit at some places to discourage crowding at shops, an excise official said.

After spirit shops open, paan lovers in UP also seek favour

After the opening of stand-alone spirit shops in Uttar Pradesh, it is the "paan" lovers who are now demanding that the paan shops also be allowed to function so that they can savour their favourite not just taste but also for health benefits. The Yogi Adityanath government has already banned the manufacture and sale of "gutkha" and "paan masala" in the state and those addicted, are now clamouring for paan, which is supposedly a healthier option.

Himachal Pradesh: big rush in stores the first day

Long queues were seen outside spirit vends in Shimla, at the stretch between CTO and Scandal Point. People, wearing masks, gathered in large numbers without maintaining social distancing norms to buy spirit . With just one active coronavirus case in Himachal Pradesh currently, most areas of the state has been designated green zone. In market areas, large numbers of shops have been allowed to open, other than spirit vends, on alternate days to maintain social distancing.

(With contributions from agencies)