COVID-19 | Toddy shop crowd pose a challenge to Kerala police

File image for representation purpose.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

The State government decision to allow toddy shops even as bars and liquor outlets have remained shut seems to have posed police with the challenge of managing crowd thronging these shops.

Some Toddy houses also served in-house, despite clear direction to allow only takeaways. The Ernakulam rural police had registered a case against the manager of a toddy shop at Chully under the Kerala Epidemic Disease Ordinance for such a violation last week.

“We have been receiving complaints with videos and pictures from residents near toddy shops of excessive crowding. We act in such specific cases since it is not practical for us to monitor them round-the-clock. They openly flout Covid protocol like wearing masks and maintaining social distance only to fall in line on seeing the police. Such cheating won’t help anyone and will only undermine the collective efforts to control the spread of the pandemic,” said a senior police officer.

Trade unions in the toddy sector attributed the rush and resultant crowding to multiple factors. “The closure of bars and liquor outlets may be bringing more people to toddy shops. Besides, nearly half of the 40-odd toddy shops in the Ernakulam range are remaining closed owing to the delay in the payment of fine after presence of starch, though not harmful, was found in the toddy during inspections. Some of them are now clearing the fine and gradually opening up. This may have led to excessive rush in the limited shops operating now,” observed P. N. Seenulal, president of the CITU-affiliated Ernakulam Toddy Shop Workers Union.

Unions, however, justified the decision to allow toddy shops to operate as a logical one. “Abrupt suspension of toddy tapping will deal long-term damage to the industry as was done during the last year’s lockdown. In such a case it will take the industry a long time to return to normalcy,” said K. N. Gopi, State vice-president of the AITUC-affiliated Kerala State Chethu Thozhilali Federation.

He said majority of the toddy shops in Ernakulam range were dependent on the supply from Palakkad, which was limited. The supply is unlikely to last long and toddy shops often down shutters by afternoon leaving little room for serious protocol violations.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 3:53:06 PM |

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