Days after the centre released guidelines for the coronavirus lockdown's third phase, Maharashtra, the worst-hit state in the country, has allowed standalone liquor shops in high-risk Red zones outside containment areas.
"Even in the Red zone districts, there are some areas where coronavirus infection has been not prevalent since over a month now. These areas are known as non-containment zones," Bhushan Gagrani, Maharashtra Principal Secretary, told reporters.
"Such non-containment areas will have some relaxations, wherein the shops selling non-essential commodities, like clothes, footwear, liquor, stationery, among others will be opened," he added.
The state government in its guidelines said only five shops selling non-essential items will be allowed in each lane; there is no restriction on the number of shops selling essentials. The shop owners and staff must adhere to the social distancing rules enforced to check the spread of the virus.
"Only five shops in one lane will be allowed to operate during the entire day. But this particular restriction is not applicable to the shops selling essential items such as medicines and grocery," he added.
The timings for all shops will be decided by the local authorities, the government says.
All shops in market complexes and malls will remain closed.
Meanwhile, shops in the worst-hit red zones in Mumbai and Pune regions will be allowed with restrictions.
"The Mumbai MMR region and Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad fall under the Red zone. There is a difference between the other 14 districts and the above-mentioned areas. The state government has prepared one more category which has Mumbai Corporation, Pune corporation and PCMC and Malegaon corporation.
"In this Red zone, we have restricted few activities mentioned in the center's order. Industries which are allowed in Red zones are not allowed in this zone (MMR & PMR) including private offices," he said.
With 12,296 cases and over 520 deaths, Maharashtra has the worst coronavirus figures in the country; Mumbai and Pune are the biggest contributors.
The centre last week extended the nationwide lockdown till May 17, but eased restrictions in all the zones.
Standalone shops, neighborhood shops and shops in residential areas can remain open, without any distinction of essential and non-essential, it had said in its order.
In Red zones, e-commerce operators can deliver only essential goods. However, they can deliver other products in other zones.