Scores queue up but most liquor stores remain shut

Shops don’t open as permission from excise dept comes late; govt blames staff crunch
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Published on May 04, 2020 11:44 PM IST
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ByNaresh Kamath, Sajana Nambiar and G Mohiuddin Jeddy, Mumbai

The city and its neighbouring Thane, Kalyan and Navi Mumbai woke up to long queues outside liquor shops, as the state government allowed alcohol and non-essential stores to open from Monday. Despite the queues and nod, a majority of the shops, however, remained shut as the permission letters came only after 2pm. Most of them decided to start business from Tuesday.

The Maharashtra government has allowed standalone liquor wholesale and retail shops to run even in red zones from 10am to 6pm. The shops will have ensure to six-feet distance between two people and not allow more than five people at a time. “As there was hardly any time, we decided to start the operations from Tuesday,” said Naresh Shetty, owner, Bombay Wine Merchants at Lalbaug. “We will get bouncers to control the crowd. They will be briefed on the measures to be followed.”

The excise department said there was a delay in issuing approvals owing to staff crunch. “We are facing shortage of manpower,” said excise commissioner Kantilal Umap.

Consumers, however, were disappointed. “I woke up early and stood in a queue from 6am,” said Raju Jaal, a resident of Byculla.

With the crowds amid the outbreak, the police had to intervene and disperse them to ensure social distance is maintained. Some citizens even complained about the flouting of norms in Chembur, Sion and IC Colony in Borivli on Mumbai Police’s Twitter handle.


In Kalyan-Dombivli, municipal commissioner Vijay Suryavanshi released a statement saying only shops selling essential commodities will be allowed to open. “There is no change in the earlier rules. Liquor shops or any other non-essential shops will not open until the Thane collector directs it,” said Suryavanshi.

A video of at least 40 people waiting in a queue outside a liquor shop in Dombivli (East), however, went viral. “There was a lot of confusion among residents as messages on social media said liquor shops will open from Monday morning,” said Amey Joshi, 36, a resident of Vishnu Nagar, Dombivli (West).

The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation announced that permission will not be given to private offices and liquor shops in the city to open till May 17. The civic body has also asked those working in Mumbai or APMC to make accommodation arrangements at their place of work.

Navi Mumbai municipal commissioner Annasaheb Misal said, “MMR includes Navi Mumbai which is a red zone. Hence there will be no relaxation in the city.”

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