Vijayawada:  The wait liquor is  set to end as  the Andhra Pradesh government announced it was reopening liquor outlets in the state, except in the COVID-19 containment zones, from 4 May. However, tipplers will have to pay extra for their drink of choice as the state government has increased the prices by around 20 to 25 per cent.

The special chief secretary of the revenue department, Rajat Bhargava, said standalone liquor shops will be allowed to open in the state barring those in the containment zones. The shops will remain open from 11 a.m to 7 p.m, he said.

Andhra Pradesh has 3,500 liquor outlets of which around 2,000 is likely to reopen on Monday. The government has already given the green signal to distilleries and breweries in the state.

Mr Bhargava said Chief Minister Y.S Jagan Mohan Reddy has directed officials to hike the liquor prices in an effort to reduce consumption of liquor. The hike is part of the government policy to cut down the number of liquor outlets and ban liquor in phases, he said.

The decision to hike the prices is reportedly to recover the revenue losses due to the COVID-19 crisis. The YSRCP government, however, has denied the claim and said the move was to discourage people from consuming liquor. The state government has lost over Rs. 2,000 crore due to the shutdown of liquor outlets during the lockdown.

Meanwhile, coming down heavily on the state government, Telugu Desam Party’s state president Kala Venkata Rao said while the government had failed to reopen the Anna canteens to feed the poor it was reopening liquor stores to fleece the hard earnings of the people.

In view of the re-opening of liquor stores, the  state’s prohibition and excise department have set the following guidelines:

1 . Not more than 5 customers shall be allowed at a time, duly maintaining social distancing

2. For the purpose there shall be 5 circles drawn in front of the liquor shop and 6 feet distance between 2 circles.

3. Shops shall display social distancing guidelines/ norms for sale of liquor and cause them to be enforced strictly.

4. Shops shall also ensure help of local police as well as additional security guards from the existing service providers.

5. In case of excess number of customers gathered at the shop, the matter may be informed to the local police and the shops may be shut down temporarily to maintain law and order strictly. After ensuring that there is no rush or stampede, the shops can be reopened.

6. The collectors shall inform the public on means of taken up sale of liquor.

8. In no case bars, clubs APTDC liquor license shall be allowed to function.

 

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