Vijayawada: Tipplers in Andhra Pradesh consumed liquor over Rs. 45 crore on 4 May, the first day of the reopening of liquor outlets in the state, said a government source.
Amid criticism from Telugu Desam Party leaders and protests by women organisations, liquor outlets across Andhra Pradesh reopened on Monday after remaining closed for 40 days. Serpentine queues were seen in Vizag, Vizianagaram, Rajahmundry, and a few other parts of Andhra Pradesh. People had lined up since 9 a.m, though the opening time was 11 a.m.
Of the total 3,498 liquor shops in the state, about 2,370 reopened on Monday. The liquor outlets in containment zones in the state remained closed.
Meanwhile, the state government has increased the prices of liquor by 25 per cent in an effort to discourage people from buying and consuming alcohol.
A senior officer of the Prohibition and Excise department said in Vizag district liquor worth more than Rs. 7.5 crores were sold on Monday. In other districts, the sale was between Rs. 3 to Rs. 5 crores.
Social distancing guidelines stated that only five persons could stand in line at any point in time. However, these rules were thrown out the window, and queues around 2-km long were seen in Vizag and other parts of Andhra Pradesh. The officials said that while there were long queues in front of the liquor outlets, sales were not as high as expected since people purchased only one bottle, that too low-priced liquor.
In Vizag and other parts of the state, leaders and activists of various women's organisations gathered in large numbers at liquor outlets and demanded they shut down, arguing that liquor consumption made people vulnerable to Corona virus.
N. Srinivas, a tippler, said many could not find their favorite brands and had to settle for the ones available at the stores. Harish G, a software professional in Vizag, said, "Since many of the available liquor brands were unfamiliar and popular, I purchased Black Dog whiskey."
The officials are expecting a booming business in the coming days.