By Varuni Trivedi
Monday, saw a nationwide brawl and chaos as the government relaxed the stringent lockdown. Serpentine queues outside liquor shops were a common sight as men and women flocked to stock up on booze amidst the third phase of lockdown. While the central government has issued clear guidelines on social distancing, it was adhered to in some places while others saw complete chaos. Some states have reported a high excise earning as the liquor sales soared high after relaxations.
As the Delhi government on Sunday announced implementing the latest lockdown relaxations suggested by Union Ministry of Home Affairs around 150 liquor shops located outside the coronavirus containment zones opened on Monday. To get their hands on booze people flouted social distancing norms, a liquor shop in New Delhi’s Malviya Nagar saw more than a hundred people lined up, the Police were called to take charge of the situation. Many other cities saw a similar scenario, people had gathered outside shops as early as 6 am in the morning. In some places the situation got out of control and shops were shut by the owners before the set time. However, the sale of liquor in malls, restaurants and permit rooms is still prohibited across the nation during lockdown 3.0.
Social distancing went down the gutters in Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Kolkata too as people were seen in queues as long as 1 to 2kms outside liquor shops. In some cities, the Police had to resort to mild lathi-charge in order to get a hold of the situation. However, interestingly enough at some shops in Bengaluru staffers were seen thermal screening the customers in fear of COVID-19 spread. In UP’s Mirzapur a shopkeeper was seen showering petals on his customer.
According to the excise department Uttar Pradesh recorded a sale of over 100 crores on Monday itself, the Principal Secretary, Excise, Sanjay Bhoosreddy said: “I don’t think there would be any single industry with just less than one lakh workforce that gives ₹100 crore revenue (to the state exchequer) in a day”. Likewise, Karnataka’s excise department released a statement estimating the value of liquor sales on the first day to be around 450 million rupees. Mahasamund district’s women in Chhattisgarh staged a protest against the liquor shops opening condemning the government’s decision. Other places however saw a considerable number of women outside liquor shops.
The country saw a bittersweet situation where on one side the uncontainable happiness on the faces of customers was unmatchable while on the other side social distancing norms were flouted and the Police faced a tough time in managing the crowds. A lot of places witnessed utter chaos which led the owners to shut down the shops before time.