HYDERABAD: Despite being a couple of dates late in opening the window for resumption of liquor sales, the state of Telangana recorded a brisk business on the first on Wednesday. Liquor sale was allowed in over 2,000 outlets across the state much to the delight of tipplers who felt deprived of their regular dose of intoxication by the prolonged lockdowCoronavirus lockdown.
For the first time in the last 45 days of lockdown time, a large number of people were seen out on the streets, all thanks to the alcoholics who began queuing up in front of wine shops right since morning. In Hyderabad, people were seen waiting outside liquor shops from as early as 6 am even though the state government clearly stated that these outlets would be allowed to do business between 10 am and 7 pm.
Such was the anxiety among prospective liquor buyers, who were determined to pocket their favourite brands of liquor quite early in the day and avoid being caught in the long queues. At almost all the liquor outets, serpentine queues of wannabe buyers were witnessed. In some areas during the peak hours of business, the queues even stretched up to about one kilometre distance.
"I just can't wait to get hold of my favourite liquor bottle. I simply couldn't sleep since the time Chief Minister KCR (K Chandrasekhara Rao) made the announcement last night on the reopening of liquor shops. I didn't want to spend long hours in the queue. That's why, I came early here. But to my dismay, there were already some people here. Everyone is anxious to buy liquor especially after feeling starved for more than 45 days," said Venkatesh, a regular customer at Shiva Wines near RTC X Roads.
Interestingly, the liquor outlet organisers also took adequate care to put in place social distancing rules at their shops, under strict monitoring of the city police. Circles were drawn spaced out by two feet distance to ensure social distancing and 'no mask, no sale' rule was also strictly implemented. as ordered by CM KCR. The shops also limited the sale of liquor to just two full bottles each to their customers to make sure that their stocks last throughout the day and also pre-empt people from stocking up by buying in large quantities.
The serpentine queues had a mix of different types of consumers waiting patiently. There were chronic alcoholics, who had a tough time dealing with withdrawal symptoms in the absence of liquor during lockdown time. There were many others who also have been missing their favourite beverages. Interestingly, at several outlets in the state capital, women were also seen patiently waiting in the queues to buy liquor. Some of them said that they are in queues to buy for their husbands as they could not turn up for a variety of reasons.
Interestingly, the state of Telangana reportedly earned a revenue of more than Rs 100 crores on the first day of resumption of the sales in the state. While the Excise department was non-committal on the numbers, authorities were upbeat about this despite the state government taking a decision to this effect a couple of days late as compared to other neighbouring states. Of the total business done on Wednesday, Hyderabad alone is reported to have accounted for a whopping 60 per cent, underscoring the urge of the urban population to guzzle up liquor.
This translates into around Rs 60 crores, giving an idea on how much booze lover of the twin cities spent on liquor despite being crippled financially during the trying times of the COVID-19 lockdown. The sale of liquor is only likely to go up vertically in coming days when more and more people are expected to throng the liquor outlets.