Liquor shops re-open in Telangana; 11 COVID-19 cases reported on Wednesday

(Eds: Combines related stories) Hyderabad, May 6 (PTI) Tipplers thronged liquor shops in large numbers as sale of alcoholic beverages resumed in Telangana after over a month long hiatus due to the COVID-19 lockdown while 11 fresh cases of the infection were reported on Wednesday.

More number of people were seen on the city roads and also at some ATMs compared to the previous days during the ongoing lockdown as most wine shops reported brisk sales amid vigil by the police and implementation of social distancing and other precautions.

Customers formed serpentine queues even before the shutters went up as the government allowed sale of liquor at more than 2,000 shops across the state with guidelines, including maintaining social distance and wearing of face masks while also increasing the prices by 16 per cent.

Shops in coronavirus containment zones will, however, remain closed.

Telangana is the latest to join the list of states, including neighbouring Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, which have allowed sale of liquor that remained out of bounds for the tipplers during the first two phases of lockdown.

The state clocks around Rs 20,000 crore revenue annually from liquor business, including licence fee.

'I was waiting for this day... I would not mind the price hike. This time I will get sufficient stocks,' a buyer said at one of the shops here.

State Excise minister Srinivas Goud said he visited several outlets here and all of them were following the government guidelines such as wearing masks and maintaining physical distances.

On Wednesday, 11 fresh cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, taking the number of people infected by the virus in the state to 1,107.

No fresh death occurred and the toll due to the virus remained at 29, a COVID-19 bulletin said.

It said 20 people were cured/discharged on Wednesday, taking the total recoveries to 648.

The number of people undergoing treatment in hospitals (active cases) stood at 430.

All the 11 fresh cases were from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) area, according to the bulletin.

Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Wednesday asked officials to focus more on Hyderabad and its surrounding areas, where the new COVID-19 cases are being reported.

He directed that effective and strict measures be implemented to contain the spread of the virus.

Rao, who held a meeting with Health Minister E Rajender and officials on COVID-19 containment and implementation of lockdown, told the officials to be on alert in villages bordering Guntur and Kurnool districts of Andhra Pradesh in view of the rampant spread of the virus there.

Meanwhile, in continuing evacuation, around 14,000 migrant workers left Telangana and Andhra Pradesh for different states in 13 special trains.

While 11 trains left Telangana, two originated in Andhra Pradesh during the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday and were headed to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, a South Central Railway official said.

The railways had been running ''Shramik Special'' trains since May 1 for ferrying the migrant workers at the request of states.

Earlier, over 2,000 migrant workers were sent to their home states from Telangana in two special trains, including the first special to be operated from Lingampalli here to Hatia in Jharkhand on May 1, after the Centre eased the lockdown norms and allowed their movement.

Speaking after a meeting of the state cabinet on Tuesday night, Rao had announced extension of lockdown in the state till May 29 beyond May 7, the earlier phase.

Six districts in the state are in red zone but three districts (except Hyderabad, Medchal and Ranga Reddy) may move out of the red zone in the next few days, he had said. PTI SJR GDK VVK VS VS