Liquor makes it to lockdown 'essentials' list in Kerala and Punjab

Liquor makes it to lockdown 'essentials' list in Kerala and Punjab
Amid the Coronavirus pandemic in India, the sale of Liquor in Punjab and Kerala will continue to go on as the states have classified all types of beverages including alcoholic ones as "essential" items, exempting them from lockdown net.

Justifying the state government's decision to allow the sale of liquor, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday (23 March) cited the "peculiar" situation arising out of Covid-19 pandemic and an alleged tweet by Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh, reports Times of India.

"I have with me a message from the Punjab chief minister. I will read it for you-All essential services will continue (there). He explains what these essential services and commodities are - groceries, liquor...the list goes on," CM Vijayan was quoted as saying.

On the question of what made the government think that alcoholic beverages could be listed as an essential item, Vijayan said, "The peculiar situation prevailing in the state demands such a measure."

Duties on liquor reportedly fetch the state exchequer around Rs 2,500 crore annually, accounting for 15 per cent of its revenue.

According to the report, a Punjab government spokesperson confirmed that despite the lockdown till 31 March, the liquor shops in the state would be allowed to operate.

However, the spokesperson denied that CM Amarinder had mentioned it in any tweet.

Earlier on Saturday (25 March), the state government issued a notification that mentioned "beverages" in the list of exemptions alongside groceries, fresh fruits, vegetables, drinking water and fodder.

Meanwhile, in Kerala, shops selling "essential" items will be open from 7 am to 5 pm. However, shops in the state's Kasargod, which had reported 38 confirmed coronavirus cases till Monday, will remain open from 11 pm to 5 pm.

CM Vijayan also said that bars would not be allowed to open during the lockdown period as it would defeat the objective of social distancing.

"We will ensure stricter measures so that social distancing norms are strictly followed," he said.

As per the report, the state government has claimed that it received an intelligence report last week, warning of serious consequences, including bootlegging if the legitimate sale of liquor were to be halted.

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