Liquor shops in Assam and Meghalaya will be allowed to open from Monday – for seven hours a day – amid the nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus, PTI reported.

In Assam, wholesale warehouses, bottling plants, distilleries and breweries have also been allowed to open from Monday. “IMFL[Indian made foreign liquor] OFF/CS OFF shop shall remain open from 10 am to 5 pm on the permitted days,” read a letter from Assam Additional Commissioner of Excise SK Medhi to the deputy commissioners. “Shops may work with bare minimum staff and provide hand sanitisers to customers and staff while handling the bottles and cash.”

The letter stated that the shops and other permitted installations will be responsible for ensuring social distancing and will have to strictly follow all the directives issued by the National Health Mission on Covid-19. The establishments will also have to work with not more than 50% of their regular staff. The order added that establishments must accommodate staff within their premises and arrange food and other amenities for them. “Any violation of the guidelines issued in regard to COVID-19 will invite cancellation of the excise licence,” the order said.

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The Meghalaya government, meanwhile, has approved opening of wine shops and bonded warehouse from 9 am till 4 pm, subject to strict compliance of social distancing norms and maintenance of adequate hygiene, a senior excise department official told PTI.

Liquor shops in Meghalaya have been closed since March 25 due to the nationwide lockdown. Last, month, the government had allowed home delivery of alcohol during the shutdown but later withdrew the order.

The ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance partners, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, have opposed the closing of liquor shops in the state. BJP state president Ernest Mawrie, who is also the secretary of the Khasi Hills wine dealers and welfare association, had said that the consumption of alcohol is a way of life in Meghalaya.

Assam has so far reported 29 cases of coronavirus, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. No cases have been reported from Meghalaya.