Coronavirus lockdown: Assam orders closure of liquor shops following Centre’s new guidelines

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Published: April 15, 2020 7:23 PM

COVID-19 Lockdown: A strict ban has been enforced on the sale of liquor, gutka, tobacco etc. under the updated guidelines that came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced extension of the nationwide-lockdown till May 3 to check spread of COVID-19 infection.

In its consolidated guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, no relaxation has been given to liquor manufacturing or its retail sales, which was allowed in Assam from Monday by the state Excise Department. (Reuters)

Within two days of allowing production and sale of liquor amid the coronavirus-triggered lockdown, the Assam government on Wednesday withdrew its order after the Centre’s guidelines on the extended shutdown did not give any such relaxation.

In its consolidated guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, no relaxation has been given to liquor manufacturing or its retail sales, which was allowed in Assam from Monday by the state Excise Department.
Prohibition was lifted in Assam’s next door neighbour Meghalaya too the same day.

A strict ban has been enforced on the sale of liquor, gutka, tobacco etc. under the updated guidelines that came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced extension of the nationwide-lockdown till May 3 to check spread of COVID-19 infection.

“States/Union Territory cannot dilute restrictions imposed vide the aforesaid guidelines issued by MHA. States/UTs may, however, impose stricter measures than these guidelines as per requirement of local areas,” Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla wrote to all Chief Secretaries during the day.

Deputy commissioners of two districts of Assam told PTI that the Union Cabinet secretary during a video conference this morning specifically instructed all states to shut activities related to production and sale of alcohol.

Following this, the Assam Excise Department issued an order in evening asking all the DCs to close liquor shops, wholesale warehouses, bottling plants, distilleries and breweries indefinitely in the state. The communication issued by Additional Commissioner of Excise S K Medhi stated that the revised order from the state government was issued “in view of the Consolidated Revised Guidelines and National Directives issued by the Central Government for COVID-19 management”.

On April 12, Medhi had ordered all liquor shops, wholesale warehouses, bottling plants, distilleries and breweries across Assam to open from the next day for seven hours daily. Opening of the liquor vends on Monday after 20 days had seen long queue of tipplers at wine shops. Maintaining social distance, people stood in serpentine queues to have their choice of liquor bottle.

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