The Maharashtra government has collected over Rs 62 crore revenue on May 4 and May 5 from liquor sales after relaxations announced in COVID-19 lockdown, while Rs 242 crore worth of liquor was sold in the two days in Karnataka.
To manage the mammoth rush to buy liquor, some state governments hiked prices of alcohol, like Delhi, which announced a 70 percent ‘special corona fee' on alcohol and Andhra Pradesh that enhanced prices by 25 percent and later by another 50 percent.
But it clearly didn't matter much — not to casual drinkers who wanted to stock up their bars and neither to the more serious addicts reduced to despair without any alcohol.
As the liquor shops were opened, a huge number of people lined up or gathered outside from early morning, counting the hours for the shutters to go up and then more hours till they reached the counter. Some of them reportedly violated social distancing norms as the fear of COVID-19 was eclipsed by the eagerness to access alcohol after more than 40 dry days.
In Maharashtra's Pune, which is massively hit by COVID-19, taking a serious note of long queues outside liquor shops, police warned of strict action against such shops if they become the cause of crowding.
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Here’s how other states and cities are dealing with the rush at liquor shops:
The Andhra Pradesh government enhanced prices of liquor by 50 percent on May 5, only a day after imposing a 25 percent hike as shops were reopened in relaxation of the ongoing lockdown.
The Chhattisgarh government has launched a web portal for home delivery of liquor in green zones of the state to avoid crowding at wine shops during the coronavirus-enforced lockdown. The portal has been named after the state-run CSMCL (Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited), which controls the sale of liquor in the state, a public relations department official here said.
The Delhi government has levied a 70 percent 'special corona fee' on the sale of liquor.
The special branch of the Delhi police has also prepared a report suggesting extending the timings of the liquor sale in Delhi after chaos outside shops on May 4.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on May 4 said in a stern message that all relaxations in the areas where people violate social-distancing and other health norms will be withdrawn.
In Maharashtra, some district collectors have decided not to open liquor shops in their respective jurisdictions.
At some places in the state, including Kolhapur and Pune, police resorted to mild lathicharge to disperse people gathered outside liquor outlets.
In Kolkata, long queues were seen outside standalone liquor shops with either police or local administration ensuring that tipplers maintain social distancing.
In Jodhpur, security personnel used batons to disperse crowds waiting to buy alcohol in a bid to reinforce social distancing norms.
Liquor shops in Telangana re-opened on May 6 with impatient tipplers forming serpentine queues even before the shutters went up. Police personnel were deployed at most of the outlets to avoid untoward incidents and ensure law and order.
Prices of liquor will be raised by a maximum of Rs 20 from May 7 in Tamil Nadu.
Some states like Kerala and Madhya Pradesh have kept liquor shops closed. The Tamil Nadu government has announced resumption of liquor sales from May 7.
(With inputs from PTI)Follow our full coverage on COVID-19 here.