Amid COVID-19 lockdown relaxation, Karnataka opens to a boozy day

In Kolar, people burst crackers to celebrate the opening of the wine shops that were shut for nearly 43 days in the state.

Another PIL was filed by seeking direction to the Delhi government to close the liquor shops in the national capital until the situation of COVID-19 pandemic is under control. Photo: PTI

Following the relaxation of lockdown rules by the Centre and with the Karnataka government allowing inter-district movement of individuals, civic life limped back to normal in the state.

In Bengaluru, industrial activities including construction works and garment manufacturing began on Monday, even as scores of migrants left the city to return to their home districts in the wake of hardships faced over the past two months.

Tipplers rejoiced at the opening of liquor stores across the state with people standing in serpentine queues for hours to get the stock. In Kolar, people burst crackers to celebrate the opening of the wine shops that were shut for nearly 43 days in the state. People thronged to the liquor stores as early as 6 AM in Bengaluru.

In the wake of liquor ban still in place across Tamil Nadu, TV channels reported that people from Krishnagiri district and Hosur along the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border, drove to Attibele, Bangalore Rural, to buy booze. In certain places, the shops ran out of stock around 3 PM even as they were allowed to sell up to 7 PM.

Karnataka Excise Minister H Nagesh said that the state incurred a loss of ₹3,000 crore in the past 40 days and it plans to recover at least 50 per cent of the loss in the next two months.
“Our FY21 revenue target was a bit higher at ₹23,000 crore compared to last year’s ₹22,000 crore. But we lost out ₹3,000 crore due to lockdown. We will recover in the coming 1.5-2 months,” Nagesh informed.

The minister said the state has enough stock to last for the next 10 days. He added that the Karnataka State Beverage Corporation Limited has already been informed to make necessary arrangements in case of stock shortage.

The state generated ₹45 crore revenue on day one of reopening the liquor shops. About 3.9 lakh litres of beer and 8.5 lakh litres of IML liquor was sold on Monday (May 4).

The trade body Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) estimates that the state lost ₹10,000 crore in one month of lockdown, and a turnover loss of ₹1.50 lakh crore over the entire lockdown period. It called on the state government to take care of the wages of MSMEs for one month and defer fixed charges on electricity for one year.

Meanwhile, the city also witnessed the highest spike in COVID-19 cases with 37 patients testing positive since Sunday (May 3). About 21 of which were accounted for from one district, Davanagere, which was under the green zone until recently.

Around 321 COVID-19 patients have been discharged after treatment in the state as on date. This is nearly 49.30 per cent of the total cases reported in Karnataka. So far, 27 people have died (4.14 per cent of the total positive cases) because of COVID-19.

RELATED NEWS: Tamil Nadu: Liquor shops to open from May 7, but with restrictions

The state government also asked all private medical colleges in Karnataka and ESI medical colleges in Gulbarga and Bangalore districts to establish RT-PCR laboratories for the diagnosis of COVID-19.

The Bengaluru civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) Commissioner B H Anil Kumar said he held a video conference with selected residents’ welfare associations to discuss the precautions to be taken for the next two weeks.

Kumar also reiterated that apartments should not allow visitors or delivery boys inside apartment gates. In the wake of public transport services being shut, he asked domestic workers, who are allowed to work, except in containment zones, to walk down to workplaces. “Those living in cluster zones can’t enter apartments,” Kumar said.

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