Sources said that though the state state excise department has not issued any formal notification, the ministry of home affairs order on Friday, allowing liquor off-shops to open in green, orange and even red zones, has lifted the lockdown-induced prohibition. However, bars and liquor on-shops will remain shut till the lockdown lasts. Home delivery of liquor, too, is under consideration in some areas.
It is learnt that Bevco (the state Beverage corporation) — the wholesale liquor arm of the state — will resume operations from Monday. “Most of the warehouses of Bevco have already started the process to resume operations,” said a source. West Bengal has 22 Bevco warehouses and out of them 19 are likely to open on Monday. The state has 2,500 liquor off-shops.
The excise department had also informally issued an advisory for liquor shop owners. In some districts, tipplers got access to their favorite liquor for a limited period in the second week of April through home delivery. In Kolkata, the move was stalled after the April 14 order of MHA banning sale of alcohol during lockdown. In the first week of April, the excise department wanted to follow the Wuhan model in Kolkata. The city where Covid-19 first was detected and had a 68-day lockdown, arranged home delivery of liquor successfully with an app. There was an informal communication from excise which said liquor could be sold on a home delivery basis from on shops/off shops/bars/restaurants/ hotels etc. having valid liquor licence.
In the latest circular, MHA has allowed sale of liquor irrespective of zones with proper social distancing and other measures. Amrit Kiran Singh, executive chairman of International Spirits and Wine Association of India, told TOI: “We have told MHA that our association is talking to all state excise departments for implementing ‘Project Safe Shield’. We shall run a campaign on this.” The project, which is about guidelines for off-shops, says buyers have to maintain a 6ft distance among themselves and not more than five buyers can be allowed at a time. In addition, masks and sanitizers are compulsory. The excise department has also advised off-shop owners to tell buyers about the new MRP of the liquor. The excise department has already revised the prices of liquor by 30% earlier this month. Bevco has completed re-labelling of its stock.
The Times of India News App for Latest City News
Start Your Daily Mornings with Times of India Newspaper! Order Now