Kochi, March 29: In a relief to those battling against the addiction of alcohol, the Kerala government has decided to supply minimum liquor to heavy alcoholics as per doctor's prescription during the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the coronavirus outbreak. The decision was taken after five people committed suicide when they could not find alcohol amid the ongoing nationwide lockdown. Coronavirus Outbreak Live News Updates on March 29.
"The state government has directed the excise department to suggest modalities to provide liquor to heavy alcoholics during the lockdown period," Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told a press conference, as reported by India Today. The state government is planning to supply liquor during the lockdown to those heavy alcoholics who have shown withdrawal symptoms. The state has suspended the sale of liquor in accordance with the 21-day countrywide lockdown.
Recently, the state government ordered the closure of retail outlets run by the state's Beverages Corporation (BEVCO), which has a monopoly over the retail sale of alcohol in the state. Notably, earlier this week, CM Vijayan had ruled out shutting the 330 outlets of BEVCO. He had said that a "knee-jerk reaction" to cut the sale of liquor could have "social repercussions".
However, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the Kerala government decided to suspend the sale of liquor from outlets run by BEVOC. Many experts say the complete suspension of alcohol sale would derail efforts being taken by heavy alcoholics to get rid of the addiction. According to a report, the state has around 1.6 million alcoholics who consume liquor on a regular basis. Among them, 45 per cent are heavy alcoholics with withdrawal symptoms.