The Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation-run liquor stores in Chennai, closed due to coronavirus risks, will reopen from Tuesday, the government said on Sunday.
The liquor shops will be allowed to operate from 10 am to 7 pm everyday, according to The Hindu. Each shop is permitted to serve only 500 customers a day through a token system. Protective masks and observation of physical distancing norms is mandatory. Liquor stores in shopping malls and containment zones will remain closed.
On May 8, the Madras High Court had ordered the closure of all liquor shops run by the Tamil Nadu government, just a day after they were reopened amid the nationwide coronavirus lockdown. The court had noted that liquor shops “blatantly violated” safety guidelines amid the raging coronavirus crisis and ruled that they would not be allowed to operate. Online delivery of liquor was allowed.
As liquor shops reopened in Tamil Nadu on May 7, residents lined up outside the outlets, ignoring all physical distancing norms. About 20 lakh litres of alcohol, worth Rs 170 crore, was sold in a day, according to several reports. Huge crowds were also seen outside liquor shops in other parts of the country, sparking fears of the spread of infection.
Liquor shops in Chennai are being allowed to open despite a sharp increase in coronavirus cases in Tamil Nadu. On Sunday, the state reported 5,860 new coronavirus infections, taking its total to 3,32,105. Tamil Nadu’s toll rose by 127 to 5,641.
DMK opposes the decision
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President MK Stalin on Monday urged the Tamil Nadu government to reconsider its decision to reopen liquor stores, saying it would play a “big role” in the spread of the coronavirus in the state capital.
In a Facebook post, Stalin said it was “inhuman to not worry” about those who may be affected by the decision and accused the government of being only concerned about the revenues it would earn from the sale of alcohol.
“Don’t need TASMAC shops during the curfew days when the intensity of the coronavirus has not reduced,” he wrote. “Don’t open the shops and increase the spread of the virus further.”