Liquor shops open in the city; people queue up maintaining social distanceUpdated: May 04, 2020 23:21 IST
Unlike Delhi, where liquor shops had to be forced shut after huge crowds gathered and created a ruckus, Noida on Monday saw patient long queues as people wearing face masks came to buy liquor.
The presence of police personnel was witnessed at most of the liquor vends, including those in Barola, Bhangel, and Sector 27, among others. Police officials were seen enforcing social distancing measures, asking shop workers to draw circles on the road and ensure that everyone had their face masks on.
According to the excise department, a total of 391 vends were allowed to open on Monday in Gautam Buddh Nagar district out of a total of 481 registered shops. The liquor shops were shut down on March 22, two days before the nationwide lockdown was announced.
“The number of shops that are allowed to operate will fluctuate depending on the changes in the number of containment zones. So far, a total of 391 out of 481 liquor shops were allowed to be opened on the first day. This number may increase or decrease depending on the situation. Our teams were on the ground, ensuring a smooth sale of the liquor with basic protocols of social distancing and face masks in place,” said RB Singh, district excise officer, GB Nagar.
He added that since many shops are quickly running out of old stock, the excise department is working on the availability of fresh stock of booze of required brands from the godowns. Supply will be ensured within the next two or three days.
While Noida witnessed no incidents of a ruckus at any liquor shop, those located near the Noida-Ghaziabad border, however, witnessed excessive long queues as the liquor shops in Ghaziabad remained shut.
“There were excessive long queues at the shops near the Noida-Ghaziabad border, but people were disciplined and no incidents of ruckus were reported,” Singh added.
According to the district magistrate’s order, the shops will remain open from 10am to 7pm. The order has also directed the liquor stores to ensure that sanitisers are available and the staffers wear face masks. Meanwhile, a number of liquor shops also ensured that every customer either has his face covered or is wearing the mask.
“Almost every shop is crowded because the stores have opened after a long time. Had there been no police presence, the situation would have gone out of control, like the reports from Delhi. We also ensured that every customer had his face covered. The only issue is that due to limited stock available, we could not cater to the demands of every customer. However, we are told that fresh stock will be made available soon,” said Ashok Yadav, who owns a liquor store at Sector Omega-1, Greater Noida.
Meanwhile, the police officials said that they are on high alert and monitoring the situation to ensure that proper distancing is maintained at all the shops. “We are on alert and, so far, no problem has come to light. All liquor shop owners have been instructed to strictly implement social distancing measures while operating,” said Kumar Ranvijay Singh, additional deputy commissioner of Police, Zone 1.
The lockdown continued to be in force in most of the parts of the city, with shops other than those selling necessary items being shut and only a few people out on the streets.
A few shops other than those selling necessary items,such as electronics and mobile, general merchants, clothes etc, were reportedly open in some of the villages of the district, such as Shahdara, Dadri etc
“There were a few shops, such as motor and automobile repair workshops, that were open in the villages. But there were only a few people on the streets, mostly to buy liquor,” said Sachin Kumar Pandey, a security guard who lives in Shahdara village in Sector 141.