(Eds: Updates with postponement of reopening of liquor shops) Puducherry, May 18 (PTI) The COVID-19 lockdown was extended in the union territory of Puducherry till May 31 in keeping with the Centre's guidelines, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy said on Monday as he announced relaxations including allowing intra-state bus services, while liquor outlets are likely to reopen on Wednesday.
Though earlier in the day he said liquor shops would also reopen from Tuesday, late on Monday night the Chief Minister announced it has been deferred, saying a special cabinet meet decided to impose 'corona tax' on alcoholic beverages and a formal approval for it was necessary from Lt Governor Kiran Bedi.
'A notification in the gazette should also be published on the quantum of corona tax on liquor and also on petrol and diesel. This formality involves some time and hence reopening of the liquor shops Tuesday is not feasible and it is likely that these would restart business on Wednesday,' he told reporters here after the late night cabinet meeting.
In his first media interaction earlier in the day, Narayanasamy said the liquor shops would function from 7 am to 7 pm and a decision on imposing the corona tax would soon be taken to augment the union territory's revenues.
The liquor shops have been shut since March 25 when the nation-wide lockdown was announced to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Intra-state bus services would also be resumed from Tuesday and all shops and hotels would be allowed to function from 6 am to 7 pm from tomorrow, Narayanasamy said.
Shops were earlier permitted to function till 5 pm.
People turning up at the liquor shops should wear masks and maintain social distancing, he said, noting that since outlets in Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam regions are closely situated, there was possibility of them drawing large number of customers.
Police, Revenue and Excise department officials would keep a close watch and regulate the crowd.
Revenue from the liquor business by way of excise duty is a major source of income for the Territorial government.
The Chief Minister also announced that the cabinet had decided to extend the lockdown till May 31 in keeping with the decision taken by the Centre. PTI CORR VS VS