The observation by the court came while expressing concern over the non-implementation of the new COVID guidelines at liquor shops run by state-owned Beverages Corporation (BEVCO).
The test positivity rate (TPR) in the state is going up due to non-enforcement of isolation protocols properly, the Kerala High Court said on Wednesday and added that preventing crowding or full lockdown were the only options to prevent spread of COVID-19.
The observation by the court came while expressing concern over the non-implementation of the new COVID guidelines at liquor shops run by state-owned Beverages Corporation (BEVCO) where people could be seen waiting in long queues for hours on end to buy alcohol.
Justice Devan Ramachandran said that the new guidelines, which mandate that anyone venturing out needs at least one dose of vaccine or a negative RT-PCR report not older than 72 hours or should have been infected by COVID-19 in past one month, should also be applicable to liquor outlets just like they are applicable to other shops.
“Are you (BEVCO) saying COVID-19 will not come near BEVCO outlets? Merely because you are getting revenue out of it, you cannot expose customers to the highest risk. The guidelines should be more applicable to you.
“You have to safeguard the lives of people coming to your outlets. You have to ensure there is no crowding. Crowding outside these shops is worrying,” the court said.
It said the problem with the system here was that though there were laws, orders, circulars and notifications against crowding, “nobody follows it”.
The court said the sole reason for crowding at the liquor outlets was that alcohol was not being sold like any other normal commodity.
“You want to sell it, but at the same time you do not want to be seen selling it. That is the problem,” the court added.
It listed the matter for further hearing on September 2 after BEVCO said that it was in the process of shifting several of its outlets to locations which have more facilities to prevent crowding.
BEVCO also said that the new COVID guidelines were applicable to its outlets as well and all its shops have been directed to comply with the same.
The court was hearing a contempt plea which was filed claiming non-compliance of its 2017 judgement directing the state government and BEVCO to ensure that no nuisance is caused to businesses and residents of an area in Thrissur due to a BEVCO outlet there.