Tipplers throng liquor shops for booze in Karnataka

Bengaluru, May 4 (IANS) Desperate to say “cheers” after a 40-day Covid-19 induced shutdown kept them home and dry, hundreds of tipplers stood in serpentine queues for their turn to buy liquor at licensed shops in cities and towns across Karnataka on Monday.

“As liquor shops are allowed to sell from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. under partial relaxation of the extended lockdown norms from today (Monday) after 40 ‘dry' days, customers who drink daily are desperate to buy a bottle of beer, whisky or brandy before the stocks run out,” a state excise department official told IANS.

Liquor shops in Covid-19 hotspots or containment areas remained shut, as per the government order.

With further easing of lockdown norms in green and orange zones for shops and establishments, hundreds of liquor shops reopened for brisk business, as tipplers stood in queues hours before their shutters were pulled up.

“We have instructed the liquor shop owners to ensure that they maintain social or physical distancing and not more than three customers are allowed at the sales counter at a time to avoid crowding. They have to also regulate the people standing in the queue at 2-feet distance between any two,” the official said.

Sensing trouble on the first day of sale due to heavy rush, police personnel have been deployed at several liquor shops in many cities and towns like Bengaluru, Hassan, Mandya, Mysuru and Raichur to prevent untoward incident and ensure law and order.

“Our men had to resort to caning customers at Anekal on the southern outskirts of Bengaluru, as there was sudden rush at the counter of a wine shop and all hell broke loose when the long queue broke up,” a police control room official said.

The police shut a wine shop at Marrapanapalya in the city's northwest suburb as its owner failed to maintain social distancing and ensure orderly sale of liquor.

“With bars, pubs and restaurants remaining shut due to the lockdown extension till May 17, habitual drinkers are desperate to hit the bottle at the earliest as there is no bar in buying any amount of liquor for consumption at home,” the official added.



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