Delhi may open liquor shops during Lockdown

With the ongoing lockdown, due to the coronavirus disease (CoViD-19) pandemic, in the country & the resulting economic turmoil, the Delhi government is looking at the possibility of opening liquor shops in the city during the lockdown period, as per a ToI report. The Arvind kejriwal-led AAP govt has asked the excise department to submit a report, suggesting measures to be taken so that it doesn\’t affect the lockdown.

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Delhi has over 860 liquor shops that have been closed since March 25, 2020, when the nationwide lockdown started. According to the report, Delhi Goverment earns Rs.5,000 crore from sales of liquor each year. Closing of liquor shops for a month can lead to a huge revenue loss. Also, the closure may lead to a rise in the sales of illicit liquor.

As per the reoprt, the Delhi government does not need Center\’s approval for opening liquor shops as the alcoholic beverages fall under the category of Food, which is exempted under national lockdown. Social distancing will be must if booze shops open.

Delhi has, till now, reported over 1550 positive cases of corona virus disease (CoViD-19), second highest after Maharashtra which has over 2650 cases. The capital has had 30 deaths due to the virus.

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The CIABC (Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies) had, earlier, requested 10 states to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages stating that the ban during the Corona Virus Disease (CoViD-19) lockdown has resulted in the sale of illicit and spurious liquor while causing burden on exchequer.

In a letter to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal & the chief ministers of 9 more states – Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, CIABC Director General Vinod Giri pointed out that there was a growth in the sale of illicit liquor in Delhi, which can cause health hazards.

“The liquor shops can be allowed to be opened during a fixed time provided that the licensees ensure that social distancing is strictly maintained and all guidelines of the health department to check the spread of coronavirus are followed,” said sources.

As per some other reoprts, CIABC has also urged the central and state governments to allow for home delivery of alcoholic beverages as India has extended the lockdown period. CIABC has suggested that a mobile app can be made to facilitate home delivery of alcoholic beverages. Liquor shops can then enrol themselves to sell alcohol through online app. The apex body has also suggested that governments can charge some small amount of fee on the delivery of alcoholic beverages.

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CIABC said recognising threats to public health as well as law and order, some state governments are taking measures regarding relaxation of the shutdown orders for alcoholic beverage shops. Some states are also looking into possibility of home delivery of liquor in special cases.

Liquor shops have already been reopened in Assam and Meghalaya. In Assam, the shops are being opened for seven hours daily while liquor shops in Meghalaya are remaining open from 9 am to 4 pm.
Kerala was the first state which tried to make alcohol availability esay during the lockdown. A decision to home-deliver alcohol prescribed by doctors was later slammed by Kerala High Court and hence struck down, earlier in the April.

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