The Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to allow the liquor shops to operate despite the lockdown in green, orange and red zones is attracting large crowds, but also allowing the state to earn big in these dismal times. While officials remain on their toes to ensure social distancing norms are followed, the state has earned Rs 100 crore from the sale of alcohol on Monday, a state government official told news agency.
The restriction on liquor shops was lifted after a gap of 40 days on Monday. Alone in the capital Lucknow, liquor worth Rs 6.3 crore was sold, officials said.
The Yogi Adityanath government has allowed the sale of liquor for 9 hours daily between 9 am to 6 pm with social distancing norms being implemented at the shops. The excise department has ordered that no more than 750 ml liquor or two halves (375 ml each), or three quarters (180 ml each), or two bottles of beer or three cans be sold to one person. This limit is likely to be lifted after 3-4 days of business.
The average daily sale of liquor in the state in normal times is around Rs 70-80 crore. Reports say several shop owners had to shut down by Monday afternoon after they ran out of stock. Uttar Pradesh has over 25,600 liquor shops. They remained closed for around 40 days after the lockdown came into force on March 24 midnight, causing huge revenue loss to the state.
“I don’t think there would be any single industry with just less than one lakh workforce that gives Rs 100 crore revenue (to the state exchequer) in a day,” Principal Secretary, Excise, Sanjay Bhoosreddy said. Meanwhile, the liquor sellers’ association pegged the figures at over Rs 200 crore.
The government has asked the public to wear face masks while going out or be pulled out of the queues. The shops have also been asked to sanitize hands of customers before they enter the shop.