People queued up for over a kilometre at a liquor shop on Desh Bandhu Gupta road in the national capital on Monday, flouting physical distancing norms necessary to contain the deadly coronavirus. But this was only one of about 150 liquor shops allowed to open in Delhi following the latest lockdown relaxations given by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

At another shop in Delhi’s Kashmere Gate area, the police resorted to mild lathi-charge after a large number of people, who had lined up to buy alcohol, didn’t maintain a safe distance. There, too, social distancing norms went up in smoke, forcing police to take action.

Scenes were no different in Uttar Pradesh where, in many areas, people started lining up outside liquor shops as early as 7 in the morning. And it didn’t take long before social distancing norms were thrown to the wind.

Some liquor outlets made circles outside the shops to ensure social distancing.

Liquor shops located in the hotspot zones, however, remained shut.

Excise Commissioner Sanjay Bhoosreddy inspected a model shop in Mahanagar area to see if the safety protocols were being followed.

In Guwahati, one of the major Assam cities, a group of four people was seen organising a small puja (prayer) before the shop was opened.

The liquor shops all set to open in parts of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and other states too. In Andhra, a prohibition tax will be imposed to discourage people from consuming, Special Chief Secretary to Industries and Commerce Department said.

Liquor shops opened on Monday after a 40-day lockdown and people were seen buying multiple bottles in several parts of the country.

In Delhi, the government has so far allowed only those liquor shops (L-7 and L-8) to operate which are being run by four state-run agencies responsible for liquor sale.

“All liquor shops in malls and markets will remain closed. The government-run shops allowed will operate from 9 am to 6.30 pm. 

“The four agencies will deploy marshals to ensure that not more than 5 people are present at one time at the shop,” the official said.

The department has asked agencies to coordinate with the local administration and police to maintain law and order.

According to the order, bonded warehouses have been allowed to resume operation from 7 am to 6.30 pm.

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