The Maharashtra government on Tuesday allowed home delivery of liquor during the coronavirus lockdown period to facilitate physical distancing, ANI reported. However, the home delivery will not be applicable in Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad and Nagpur, where the civic bodies have not allowed liquor shops to open their establishments.

An order issued by Valsa Nair Singh, principal secretary (excise), said licensed liquor shops are allowed to deliver to those who have permits for drinking. “The licensee shall sell the IMFL spirits, beer, mild liquor and wines only in respect of the liquor for which he is licensed to sell,” the order added.

The guidelines also stated that the sale and delivery of the liquor would be allowed only in the jurisdiction of the licensed premises at the specified day and timings, provided the permit holder has placed an order for the same.

The shops would have to ensure that the liquor delivery personnel use face masks and sanitisers regularly due to the spread of the infection, the order said. However, the government added that the doorstep delivery would only be valid during the lockdown period and would be subject to modifications or cancellations in the future.

Unidentified excise officials told the Times of India that it will take at least two days for shops to prepare for this and the deliveries will start from Thursday.

Nilesh Athnikar of the Association of Progressive Liquor Vendors said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has to allow shops to start home delivery. “It should also be made clear if BMC doesn’t want us to open but operate only home deliveries,” he added.

Last week, the Supreme Court left it open for states to consider online sales and home delivery of liquor. Hundreds of people queued outside liquor shops across the country, ignoring all physical distancing norms, as they opened for the first time amid the lockdown. In Delhi, serpentine queues were seen outside shops, even as the government imposed 70% extra tax – dubbed “special corona fees” – on the sale alcohol. Several other states also imposed taxes in an effort to avoid large crowds.

On May 1, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs had eased lockdown restrictions with classifications of districts into red, orange and green zones based on the coronavirus risk-profiling. The sale of liquor and tobacco products were allowed in some areas after ensuring a minimum six-feet physical distancing.

So far, Maharashtra has 23,401 coronavirus cases – more than any other state in India. Of these, Mumbai alone accounts for over 12,000 cases.