The much-debated topic of whether alcohol should’ve been deemed an essential commodity or not finally came to rest today as several Indian states resumed liquor sales between 7 AM and 7 PM, following the latest guidelines from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. As the second extension of the lockdown begins, with India having breached the 40,000-mark when it comes to the number of COVID-19 cases, the Centre has now allowed the sale of liquor with “certain conditions” for standalone shops in all zones, barring containment areas. The news saw people queuing up from as early as 7 AM, with social distancing protocols being grossly violated at several places too.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms had been on the rise, ever since the sudden lockdown had shuttered the liquor shops. Though a blackmarket of liquor and cigarettes flourished throughout the country during the lockdown, the loss of stream of revenue generated by alcohol funding—which accounts to nearly one-fifth of the budget of most state governments—hit treasuries hard. While social distancing norms say that only five people will be allowed in the now-opened shops at one time and that people need to maintain a six-feet distance while queuing up, photos from several places around the country show that we can pay dearly for our love for the bottle.