GUWAHATI: North-eastern states Assam and Meghalaya will open all liquor shops for seven hours daily beginning Monday.
All liquor shops, wholesale warehouses, bottling plants, distilleries and breweries across Assam will open from Monday for seven hours from 10-5 pm daily, an excise department order said on Sunday.
A letter from Additional Commissioner of Excise S K Medhi to all the deputy commissioners (DCs) said the state government has approved opening of liquor shops with effect from April 13, subject to compliance of various guidelines issued by the health department.
"IMFL OFF/CS OFF shop shall remain open from 10 am to 5 pm on the permitted days.... Shops may work with bare minimum staff and provide hand sanitisers to customers and staff while handling the bottles and cash," the letter said.
All the establishments will work with not more than 50 per cent of their regular staff. The owner must arrange food and other amenities and they must be accomodated at a designated place nearest to the factory premises. "Any violation of the guidelines issued in regard to COVID-19 will invite cancellation of the excise license," Medhi said.
In Assam, the total number of COVID-19 cases have risen to 30, and one have died.
The Meghalaya government has approved opening of wine shops and bonded warehouse from 9 am till 4 pm subject to strict compliance of social distancing and maintaining of hand hygiene. The Deputy Commissioners have been tasked to ensure strict observance of the rules. Meghalaya is has not reported any case of COVID-19 infection.
The liquor shops were shut in the state since March 25 in view of the nationwide lockdown. But, a state government order on March 30 allowed home delivery of alcohol during the shutdown. The order was, however, withdrawn two days later.
The ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance partners, including the BJP, have aired their opposition to closure of the liquor outlets during the lockdown. BJP state president Ernest Mawrie, who is also the secretary of the Khasi Hills wine dealers and welfare association, had said that alcohol consumption in moderation is a way of life in Meghalaya. He said the wine shop owners are facing immense public pressure in this regard.