Hours After They Open, Some Delhi Liquor Shops Closed After Large Crowds

Liquor Stores: Madhya Pradesh will re-open the outlets from tomorrow except in cities like Indore, Bhopal and Ujjain that are severely-hit by the outbreak.

Liquor Stores: Lonq queues were seen outside shops that re-opened today.

Highlights

  • In Delhi, policemen were seen resorting to force to control crowds
  • In neighboring Haryana, the shops remain shut
  • Punjab has also not allowed the resumption of sale of alcohol
New Delhi: Hours after liquor stores re-opened across India this morning, many shops in Delhi were shut again as huge crowds gathered outside the outlets, flouting social distancing norms. Last week, as the nationwide shutdown to check the spread of coronavirus was extended by another two weeks, the Union Home Ministry said that except in containment areas, standalone liquor shops - shut since March 25 - can re-open across the country. These shops should not be located in markets and malls in urban areas, the government said, adding that minimum six-feet social distancing should be ensured, while no more than five people are allowed inside a shop at a time. Across India, the COVID-19 count has crossed the 40,000-mark, more than 1,300 people have died.

Here are top 10 developments in this big story:

  1. In Delhi, policemen were seen resorting to force in several parts of the city as they tried to control crowds outside liquor stores this morning. Nearly 100 liquor shops were permitted to open in the national capital that has over 90 containment zones; the city has so far reported over 4,500 COVID-19 cases and 64 deaths. Delhi should "allow minimum relaxations" to control the pandemic, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said this afternoon, calling it his "personal opinion". 

  2. In neighboring Haryana, the shops remain shut as the district excise and taxation department has not received any fresh directive from the state government. Like Haryana, Punjab has also not allowed the resumption of sale of alcohol.

  3. In Maharashtra, the worst-hit state in the country, only five shops selling non-essential items are allowed in each lane. Visuals from Mumbai showed long queues outside liquor stores as shops re-opened after a month. 

  4. Liquor shops have been allowed to open across Uttar Pradesh between 10 am and 7 pm. In Lucknow, the state's capital, people started queuing outside outlets before they re-opened this morning. Senior excise department officials inspected stores across the city to ensure social distancing norms. In rural parts, no queues were seen outside the shops. Excise is a major revenue generator for UP, second only to GST collections. In April, excise collections were only a little over 1 per cent of the projected collections by the state government. Many say this has prompted the re-opening of liquor stores.

  5. Madhya Pradesh will re-open the outlets from tomorrow except in cities like Indore, Bhopal and Ujjain that are severely-hit by the outbreak. 

  6. Amid a lack of clarity over re-opening of alcohol shops in Bengal, Kolkata Police used batons to disperse crowds today outside an outlet in Kalighat area. 

  7. Hours before the shutters went up, queues were seen outside outlets in some parts of Karnataka this morning where shops have been allowed to open between 9 am to 7 pm. No snacks and water can be sold in these shops, social distancing must be maintained and masks must be used by the people selling liquor at the shops, the state government has said. In Bengaluru, shopkeepers refused to sell alcohol to those not wearing masks. 

  8. Andhra Pradesh has allowed the sale of alcohol with a prohibition tax. "We are taking the measure to open liquor shops in the state for revenue consideration but the government is concerned about the bad effects of alcohol consumption. So we are imposing prohibition tax on that, the amount will be decided soon," Rajat Bhargava, Special Chief Secretary told reporters on Sunday, news agency ANI reported. Around 3,500 outlets have been permitted to re-open.

  9. Puducherry has not taken a decision on re-opening the liquor stores, ANI reported.

  10. Himachal Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Rajasthan are among other states where alcohol shops have been allowed to re-open from today.

(With inputs from ANI)