New Delhi, May 4 (IANS) With the Delhi government opening around 150 select state-run liquor shops in the city, long queues and violation of social distancing norms were witness at many places in the national capital on Monday, forcing many such stores to close down.
Interestingly, queues of Bacchus worshipers were seen outside many shops which were not even allowed to reopen due to precautionary norms.
Buyers had begun to gather outside many liquor shops, allowed to operate, as early as 8.30 in the morning leading to long queues.
“When the first lockdown was announced (from March 24 midnight), we thought things will be under control within days. So, we never stocked liquor. It has since been over 40 days now. So, the first thing to do for me in the morning was to get some stock,” said Prashant Mehra, as he waited patiently outside a liquor shop in East of Kailash.
Mehra was leading a queue which stretched to a few metres, while an even longer queue had started to form at a nearby liquor store.
However, to his utter disappointment, a security guard posted at a nearby ATM informed him and others that both the shops were actually not allowed to re-open yet.
In Kapashera, which has seen a cluster outbreak of COVID-19 in recent days, a state- run wine and beer shop had to be closed after a long queue flouted social distancing norms forcing.
“There is no point in opening liquor shops if a few policemen cannot monitor the queues. The consumers will certainly flout social distancing norms,” an attendant at the shop said.
According to a Delhi government official, about 150 liquor shops have been allowed to open in accordance with the latest lockdown relaxations given by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
There are around 850 liquor shops in the city, including those run by government agencies and private individuals.
In the order that allowed these shops to be reopened, the Delhi government instructed all shop incharges and other staff to report at their respective shops at 7 am sharp from Monday onwards.
The sale of liquor has been capped at 9 litres and 1 beer case for one customer.
“It is mandatory for all the staff of the liquor shops to wear face covers and gloves. Adequate stock of such face covers & gloves also shall be made available at the shops,” the Delhi government order issued on Sunday night had said.
“All the persons working in the liquor shop shall ensure social distancing as per the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, both within and outside the shops, during sale of liquor,” the order added.