Liquor vends reopen in Haryana after 40 days, no crowding witnessed during sale

Chandigarh, May 6 (PTI) Liquor vends in Haryana reopened from Wednesday after nearly 40 days with reports coming in from most places that there was no violation of social distancing norms as witnessed in some other parts of the country recently.

There was no heavy rush of customers at the vends in the state as seen in places like Delhi when the liquor stores had reopened earlier.

The vends will remain open from 7 am to 7 pm.

The state government has imposed a variable ''COVID cess'', which has made different categories of liquor including Imported Foreign Liquor, Indian-Made Foreign Liquor, country liquor and beer costlier than before.

At different vends in districts including Karnal, Panchkula, Gurgaon, Kaithal, Rohtak and Bhiwani, moderate rush of buyers was witnessed.

A customer who purchased a liquor bottle from a vend in Karnal said, “I am happy that the government took the decision to open the vends. The timings to open the vends are also good”.

Another customer from Rohtak said, 'The government has decided to hike the rate, but at least they have taken a good decision to open the vends. It will also help them get some revenue”.

At a few places, people complained of liquor stock not being available with the vend owners.

“I came early in the morning, but I was told to wait,” said a customer in Fatehabad.

Customers from some other places also complained of vends not being stocked.

At some places including Faridabad, few vends remained shut.

Meanwhile, state Home Minister Anil Vij said he had strictly ordered district police chiefs that social distancing should be ensured.

“I had directed them that if there is any violation, then, liquor contractors will be held responsible,” he said.

It will be ensured that social distancing is maintained at the vends and there is proper barricading, he said, adding that customers will have to stand six feet apart.

Only five customers at a time were being allowed to stand on the sales counter of the retail liquor vend.

Ten minutes before the closure of a retail vend, no customer shall be allowed to stand in queue, except the five customers already at the counter.

Wearing face masks is mandatory for customers and salesmen while liquor vend owners will have to make available hand sanitisers at the counter at all times.

The state government had in a cabinet decision on Tuesday decided to open the retail liquor vends throughout the state barring in coronavirus ''containment zones''.

However, no ''ahataas'' or open drinking places adjacent to liquor vends will be allowed.

The Haryana government had shut down liquor vends in the state from March 27, two days after a countrywide lockdown came into force.

The government has imposed a variable ''COVID cess'' on liquor and the additional revenue generated will be used to support the areas or institutions adversely hit by the pandemic, Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala had said.

There is no move to permit home delivery of liquor, Chautala had pointed out. PTI SUN VSD HDA