Covid-19: Mumbai revokes permission for liquor shops, only essential items available from Wednesday

Civic authorities in Mumbai announced that liquor shops and stores selling non-essential items will not be allowed to open from Wednesday as physical distancing norms were not being followed amid the coronavirus lockdown. The number of coronavirus cases in the city rose to 9,758 on Tuesday, while Maharashtra’s tally went up to 15,525.

“There have been multiple reports and inputs from the police and ward officials that due to relaxations, there has been huge crowds gathering outside liquor shops and and it has been impossible to observe social distancing,” Mumbai Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi said in an order. “No such permission for opening non-essential shops is given. Only grocery shops and medical stores will be allowed to open.”

Hundreds of people queued outside liquor shops across the country, ignoring all physical distancing norms, as they opened on Monday for the first time amid the lockdown. In Delhi, serpentine queues were seen outside liquor stores for the second consecutive day on Tuesday, even as the government imposed 70% extra tax – dubbed “special corona fees” – on the sale alcohol.

Norms of physical distancing were broken in several areas as people awaited their turns. In some places, the police resorted to baton-charging to control the growing crowd.

The nationwide lockdown, imposed first on March 24 to control the coronavirus pandemic, was extended till May 17. However, last week, the Centre permitted a list of activities including the sale of liquor in non-containment areas of red, orange and green zones from May 4. In its guidelines, the Centre said that vendors should let in only five customers at a time and ensure physical distancing is maintained.

Across India, 46,711 cases of the coronavirus have been reported so far and the toll has gone up to 1,583, according to the Union health ministry.

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