Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Monday, April 21, said that liquor shops can be reopened across the state if people strictly adhere to the social distancing protocols.
"I reckon there should not be any ban on the sale of alcohol if proper social distancing is maintained," Tope said while interacting with a group of journalists over video-conferencing.
At present, all wine shops in the state have been ordered to shut in the wake of the lockdown to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, officially known as SARS-CoV-2.
Alcohol body requested "phased reponing" of liquor shops
Citing the economic implications of the lockdown, the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC) wrote a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray requesting phased resumption of wine shops and distilleries.
"Shops outside identified COVID-19 hotspots should be allowed to open in a phased manner. From April 15th to May 15th, the shops shall remain open from 9 am to 11 pm. Then from May 15th to June 15th, the shops shall remain open from 11 am to 11 pm. And from June 15th, the shops shall run as per the normal timings," the alcohol body suggested.
The CIABC also warned the Maharashtra government about the black-marketing of alcoholic beverages in several cities.
Maharashtra rattled by COVID-19
The novel coronavirus pandemic has incurred maximum damage to the state of Maharashtra as it has seen the most number of COVID-19 cases and casualties in India. As of now, Maharashtra has 4,666 patients of the fatal virus which includes 3,862 active cases, 572 recoveries and 232 deaths. Mumbai, the financial capital of the country, accounts for more than 50 percent cases of Maharashtra.
Assessing the damage done by the novel coronavirus in different regions of the state, CM Thackeray has said that some relaxations will be allowed in the least-affected parts during the lockdown. "We need to start the economic wheels again. We are giving selective permissions from April 20, especially in orange zones and green zones," said Thackeray.
Maharashtra has so far conducted over 76,000 tests for the fatal disease and plans to do 75,000 more in the next few days.