From Wednesday, Mumbaiites can buy liquor from shops

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Published on Aug 04, 2020 12:48 AM IST
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ByMehul R Thakkar

Four days after the state government eased some more restrictions in the ongoing lockdown, civic commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal on Monday issued a circular permitting market complexes and shopping malls in the city to remain open between 9am and 7pm from Wednesday.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) also scrapped the odd-even rule meant for shops selling non-essential, and permitted them to remain open on all days. The civic body, which earlier only permitted home delivery of liquor, allowed its over-the-counter sale from Wednesday.

“It is directed that the liquor shops are allowed to remain open for sale across the counter but shall strictly adhere to national directives of Covid-19 for safe distancing and covering of masks mentioned. It is further directed that all shops shall remain open on all days on all sides of the road irrespective of the even and odd days rule,” the circular stated.

However, the civic body said citizens cannot travel far to buy non-essential items or in the case of non-emergencies.

Stating that around five million people employed in the modern retail sector would suffer if the state delays reopening of malls, the Shopping Centres’ Association of India (SCAI) urged the Maharashtra government to take concrete steps to ensure their urgent reopening. Maharashtra has more than 75 malls of which 50% are located in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, while 20% is in Pune, and the rest in Amravati, Aurangabad, Kolhapur, Nashik and Nagpur.

However, the theatres and restaurants inside city malls will remain closed.

“Malls and market complexes will be operational from 9am to 7pm with effect from 5th August, 2020, without theatres, food courts / restaurants. However, the kitchen of restaurant and food courts will be allowed to operate in malls, wherein only home delivery through aggregators will be allowed,” the circular stated.

The circular also permits e-commerce companies to deliver all types of goods and private offices to function with 10% attendance. As per the new rules, garages can remain open but clients can visit only after taking prior appointments. The circular also stated that self-employed people such as plumbers, electricians, pest-control companies and technicians can work commence their work.

The civic body also allowed venues for non-team sports such as golf courses, firing ranges, gymnastics, tennis and badminton courts to operate from Wednesday but owners and visitors must ensure that sanitation measures and social distancing norms are maintained.

However, gyms in the city will remain closed.

Viren Shah, president of Federation of Retail Traders’ Welfare Association (FRTWA), welcomed the civic body’s decision. “It was not practical for us to follow the alternate-day rule as we need to pay wages to our workers and rent to landlords. We have been requesting the authorities to permit shops to operate on all days from the past 20 days. We would like to thank the civic body and the Maharashtra government for allowing it now. More than 3 lakh shop owners in Mumbai can now heave a sigh of relief as they can remain open on all days. We have asked all the shops to ensure social distancing and follow sanitisation and other precautionary measures in shops,” said Shah.

The circular was issued as part of the state government’s ‘Mission Begin Again’ initiative that envisages phase-wise relaxations to the lockdown. Like the state, the city will also be under lockdown till August 31.

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