Long queues and chaos were reported last week at liquor stores across states in India after the Asian country was forced to ease its COVID-19 lockdown due to economic considerations.
This had prompted measures to contain the disease, forcing the country’s over 1.3 billion population to stay indoors in a 40-day lockdown that brought its economy to a standstill.
— Dipanshu Kabra (@ipskabra) May 4, 2020
But as the lockdown was eased on May 4, and with New Delhi, the country’s capital city, imposing a 70 percent tax on all alcohol purchases as part of a “special COVID-19 fee,” long queues were seen outside liquor stores in different parts of the country.
#AndhraPredesh के गुंटूर में तेनाली की ये तस्वीरें हैं, लोग लम्बी लम्बी कतारों में खड़े होकर शराब लेने के लिए अपनी बारी का इंतजार कर रहे हैं, इतनी भीड़ तो दूध की दुकान और अस्पताल के बाहर भी नहीं दिखी।
Be it #Karnataka / #AndhraPredesh, visuals are same. @indiatvnews #LiquorShop pic.twitter.com/8sDpoqIhDY
— T Raghavan (@NewsRaghav) May 4, 2020
Aside from New Delhi, it is understood that the long queues were seen in several cities including Noida, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Mumbai and Jaipur, with citizens grossly flouting social distancing and other precautionary measures.
— Narendra Modi fan (@narendramodi177) May 4, 2020
Pictures and video clips circulated on social media show security operatives dispersing crowds and shutting many government-run liquor shops as citizens shove and push one another in what has been described as chaos.
Chhattisgarh: Social distancing norms being flouted as people in large numbers queue outside a liquor shop in Rajnandgaon. The state govt has allowed liquor shops to open in the state from today except for the containment zones. #CoronavirusLockdown pic.twitter.com/GfTzQP86Ip
— ANI (@ANI) May 4, 2020
The reopening of liquor stores came after unions representing alcohol brands wrote the country’s authorities to consider the opening of wine shops as the sector recorded immense losses — with liquor sale a big source of revenue for the governments.
But according to Financial Times, following the lockdown relaxation, the country recorded a surge in COVID-19 cases, with testing rising from about 2,000 per day in late March to 85,000.
“We have flattened the curve, but it is still rising. It’s not that we have turned it down,” Randeep Guleria, a pulmonologist and director with a leading public hospital, was quoted to have said.
“We have managed not to have Intensive Care Units (ICUs) full of COVID patients, but the challenging part is the future.”
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