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In Pictures | Brewing blues on day 41 of coronavirus lockdown

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With the Ministry of Home Affairs relaxing some of the restrictions in green and orange zones in the third phase of the lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic, liquor shops in many parts of the country were crowded with people and no social distancing norms were followed.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has extended the 40-day nationwide lockdown for two more weeks and allowed liquor and tobacco shops to open in the green and orange zones. In the third phase of coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, liquor shops, pan and cigarette stalls and a few garment shops opened shutters in Arunachal Pradesh and in several other States for the first time since the lockdown came into force in March.

In New Delhi, about 150 government liquor outlets opened for the first time since the lockdown was imposed. Delhi BJP leaders asked the AAP government to reconsider its decision on opening of liquor shops in the national capital, saying it may lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly, Ramvir Singh Bidhuri criticised the Delhi government’s decision to open liquor shops, claiming it can increase coronavirus positive cases by up to 10%. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Delhi government will withdraw all lockdown relaxations from areas where people do not maintain social distancing.

Large number of people made a beeline to liquor stores in Uttar Pradesh where 26,000 liquor stores were opened, while Rajasthan had to close most of the shops where social distancing norms were not being followed.

As per the government notification, shops selling liquor have to ensure social distancing and also make sure that not more than five people are present at one time at the shop. In Chandigarh, the city administration allowed reopening of all shops in the non-containment zone areas. It had announced reopening of shops in the internal sector markets from 10 am till 6 pm on an odd-even formula in the non-containment zones. In Uttarakhand, police personnel deployed outside liquor shops had a tough time controlling people as they gathered in large numbers outside liquor shops.

Long queues were seen outside liquor outlets in Mumbai and Pune in Maharashtra, a day after the state government said shops of non-essential items, including liquor, would be allowed to open in non-containment zones, but to the dismay of the customers, they remained shut.

In Goa, people observed social distancing rules while standing in queues outside the liquor shops. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India crossed 40,000 on May 3, making it one among 16 countries that have crossed that figure. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in its May 4 update said that 43,437 have been tested positive and the death toll stands at 1,398.

(With inputs from PTI)

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