Hours after hundreds of tipplers in Pune district were turned away from stores on Monday citing lack of official orders from the district administration, Collector Naval Kishore Ram finally allowed conditional re-opening of retail and wholesale liquor shops (including those selling country liquor) except in areas that have been demarcated as containment zones.
As per the directives, standalone liquor shops can be re-opened between 10 am and 6 pm, provided that social distancing is maintained at the shops by the customers by standing six feet apart. Retail shop owners will also have to ensure that employees as well as visitors are thermal scanned and those with flu symptoms are not allowed to enter the shop. They will also have to sanitise the area around the shop every two hours and make available hand sanitisers at counters to be used by the visitors and workers.
Buoyed by the news of the opening of liquor shops almost six weeks after their closure on March 20, hundreds of tipplers had queued outside several wine shops in the city since early morning. However, the wine shops (which generally open at 10 am) remained closed with owners, in some places, showing up to tell the prospective customers that they will not be able to open the shop until they receive a written order from the District Collector via the State Excise Department.
“We are hoping that the order will come today. But it hasn’t yet been issued and until that happens we will not be able to up the shutters,” said Pravin Agarwal, a manager at A Zone Wine Shop on Bhandarkar Road where over 150 customers had queued up on Monday morning.
Ramesh Inamdar, a customer in his late 50s, said that he had queued up since 8.30 am. “They should open the liquor shops at the soonest. We will buy liquor and drink at home in peace. The government will get the much-needed revenue,” he said.
Queues were seen at almost every wine shop in Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad and suburbs in the morning. At GSP Wine Shop on ITI Road in Aundh, over a 100 persons had gathered to buy liquor. The police dispersed the crowd telling them that the liquor shops were not going to open.
Similar situation was noticed in Undri, Tilak Road, Baner, Sinhagad Road, Bibwewadi between 10 am to 12 noon.
Revised guidelines issued by State Government for the lockdown period between May 4 and May 17 had indicated that liquor shops in Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad and Mumbai – which have strictest restrictions in the state – could remain open in areas outside the containment zones fixed by the local municipal corporations.
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