Tagged a green zone as it had not reported a single COVID-19 case, Osmanabad district on Tuesday decided not to allow liquor shops to operate.
On Tuesday, a day after allowing standalone retail liquor shops to operate for three days in the week, district Collector Deepa Mudhol Munde revoked her decision. It wasn’t alone. Neighbouring Latur district also did the same.
“We have decided not to permit liquor shops for now,” said Munde. She indicated that crowding fears, especially at the only six wine shops situated in the district, had prompted the reconsideration. “Indian made foreign liquor is only available at the wine shops. Since the whole district has just six shops, fears of overcrowding and lack of social distancing could not be ruled out,” she said.
Munde also admitted that concerns that people from neighbouring districts sneaking in to buy liquor at these vends had also resulted in the reconsideration.
On Monday itself, six of the eight other Marathawada districts — Parbhani, Nanded, Jalna, Beed, Hingoli (all orange zones) and Aurangabad (green zone) had passed orders deciding against opening up liquor shops. With both Osmanabad and Latur now joining in, alcohol will remain out of bounds in Marathwada, the least-hit region in Maharashtra.
According to the excise department, so far 11 districts have decided against permitting liquor shops, while 17 others have allowed the shops to open. On Tuesday, Washim, also a green zone, allowed the shops to resume operations. So did another Vidarbha district of Bhandara, which is in the orange zone. Gondia, another green district in the region, is yet to take a final call.
Meanwhile, in Nagpur, municipal commissioner Tukaram Mundhe didn’t permit standalone wine, beer, and country liquor vends in civic limits. The district is in the red zone.
In Thane, too, Mira Bhayander Municipal Commissioner Chandrakant Dange cited difficulty in implementing social distancing norms to disallow the activity.
According to the excise department, 1,111 country liquor stores, 718 wine shops, and 1763 beer shops had opened till Tuesday evening.
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