Liquor shops in Delhi shut after crowd turns unruly, defies social distancing
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People queued up in large numbers in the morning at the liquor shops.

Liquor shops in Delhi shut after crowd turns unruly, defies social distancing

Many government-run liquor shops that opened after a gap of over 40 days in the national capital on Monday (May 4) had to be shut as people who gathered outside the outlets did not follow social distancing norms, and the police had to use mild force in some cases to disperse the unruly crowd.

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Many government-run liquor shops that opened after a gap of over 40 days in the national capital on Monday (May 4) had to be shut as people who gathered outside the outlets did not follow social distancing norms, and the police had to use mild force in some cases to disperse the unruly crowd.

People queued up in large numbers in the morning at the liquor shops.

According to an official, about 150 government-run liquor shops have been allowed to open from 9 am to 6.30 pm in accordance with the latest lockdown relaxations given by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

Many people were not aware that only government shops were allowed to open.

In most areas including Burari, Mayur Vihar, Gandhi Vihar, Rohini and Janakpuri, a large number of people had lined up outside outlets.

An official said an alcohol vend had to be closed in Mayur Vihar in east Delhi as people failed to maintain social distancing norms. Similar cases were reported from north and central Delhi.

With people gathering in large numbers, the police had to resort to mild force.

“Shops were asked to shut in places where social distancing norms were violated. At some places, mild force was also used to disperse the crowd,” a senior police official said.

“Liquor shops in Karol Bagh, Daryagang and DB Gupta road in central Delhi were shut by the police after crowds, gathered to purchase liquor, did not maintain social distancing norms,” said another senior police official.

Related news: Norms defied as liquor shops see huge rush in several states

While liquor shops in Anand Parbat and Ranjeet Nagar did not open, liquor vends in Paharganj area which opened at around 9 am was closed by 12 noon as people gathered there failed to maintain social distancing norms, said another senior official from Central district.

In northeast Delhi, liquor outlets in Jyoti Nagar and Dayalpur were also closed within an hour after it opened due to overcrowding and violation of social distancing norms, the police official.

“A large number of people gathered even before the shop opened at around 10 am and within minutes, we asked the liquor shop to shut,” said a senior police official from Shahdara district.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) Jasmeet Singh said, “Two liquor shops opened in Kotla village, Mayur Vihar and Khichripur in east Delhi between 9 to 10 am. However, they were closed within 15 minutes after people did not follow police instructions. No marshal was deployed in these shops.”

There were many who waited outside liquor shops but were not lucky enough.

Amit, in his late forties, had come all the way from Paharganj to buy liquor from a vend in Gole Market, but without any luck. The area has three alcohol shops. With a large number of people gathering, the police dispersed the crowd.

“They (liquor shops) have said they will open the shop after 12 noon. I will wait until then,” an unrelenting Amit said, refusing to go as he sought refuge in a lane.

Outside another liquor shop behind the Regal Cinema, a police volunteer pasted a notice ‘The shop will not be opened until further notice.’

Delhi government earns revenue of 5,000 crore from the sale of liquor.

The government has directed four state-run agencies, which are responsible to sell liquor, to deploy adequate marshals at these shops.

There are around 850 liquor shops in the city including those run by government agencies and private individuals. In an order on Sunday night, the excise department also directed officials to identify liquor shops, which are being run by private individuals (L-7 licensee) and fulfil conditions laid down by the MHA.

Related news: Liquor makers urge govt to allow phase-wise opening of industry

The officials have been asked to submit a report within three days. The government has so far allowed only those liquor shops (L-6 and L-8) to operate which are being run by four state-run agencies.

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

The Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation, the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation, the Delhi State Civil Supplies Corporation Limited and the Delhi Consumers Cooperative Wholesale Store have been given the permission to open liquor shops in public places, except malls and market complexes.

The agencies will have to give an undertaking stating that liquor shops being allowed to open will fulfill all MHA guidelines, according to the excise department.

Other states on liquor sale:

    • TASMAC (Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation) did not resume operations. However, the neighbouring state of Karnataka allowed the opening of liquor shops.
    • People flocked various liquor shops across Andhra Pradesh in large numbers, flouting social distancing guidelines as stores opened for the first time since the imposition of the lockdown.
    • Punjab and Haryana remained shut with no directive from the respective state governments on the resumption of the sale of liquor.
    • The worst-hit state of Maharashtra also allowed liquor sale and visuals from Mumbai showed long queues of people outside liquor stores.
    • Retail liquor shops opened in all zones of Rajasthan except in areas of curfew and containment zones.
    • Uttar Pradesh also allowed the opening of liquor stores from 10 am to 7 pm.
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