May 5 2020
It was chaos at many liquor stores in India yesterday as police beat back people jostling to buy alcohol for the first time in 40 days as the government eased the country’s Covid-19 lockdown.
Efforts to impose social distancing at the stores were thwarted as people, who gathered from early morning, ignored the rules as they eagerly waited for the premises to open.
Policemen had to intervene at several places by hitting some of the rowdy crowd with long hardened bamboo canes.
Some of the stores had to be closed soon after they were opened after large crowd gathered for their supply of liquor and scuffles broke out.
Hundreds, however, continue to loiter in the area in the hope for the liquor stores to be reopened.
In some states, including Maharashtra, certain liquor stores remained shut amid confusion over which outlets were permitted to open while in other states such as in Assam, they opened several days earlier.
Although illegal in some states like Gujarat, alcohol consumption in India has risen in recent years.
Indians reportedly drink almost half the world’s whisky.
The government yesterday said it would impose a 70 percent “special corona fee” on liquor sales to boost revenue badly hit by the pandemic.
India’s official tally of Covid-19 cases is 42,500, with around 1,400 deaths.
Its lockdown had resulted in misery for millions of workers in its vast informal sector dealt a major blow to Asia’s third-biggest economy.