The Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) liquor shops are stated to open from May 7 as part of relaxation provided in the guidelines of Lockdown 3.0. The TASMAC outlets were closed since March 24, when the Prime Minister announced the first nationwide lockdown.
The state government of Tamil Nadu announced that the TASMAC would be open for business from 10 a.m. till 5 p.m. The bars attached to the liquor outlets would remain closed. A source at TASMAC said, “We will not open shops in containment zones. TASMAC workers from containment zones will also not be called for work.”
A senior government official stated that all the TASMAC outlets would be disinfected and sanitised over the next two days. “Employees will be given gloves and masks. We will have proper barricading in front of the shops. Tipplers who come without a mask will not be allowed to purchase. We will come out with detailed guidelines on the do’s and don’ts before the shops open,” he stated. He also added that strict social distancing norms, along with personal consumption limits, would be followed.
Opposition parties in the state of Tamil Nadu have severely criticised the government’s decision to open liquor outlets.
The state government on Monday issued a statement pointing out that the neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are opening liquor shops, due to which people in border districts of Tamil Nadu were crossing the state borders to buy liquor. The state government justified its decision by stating that the opening of liquor stores would help in crowd management.
“People have been crossing borders to purchase liquor, and in the last few days, there have been several complaints pertaining to illegal liquor being made at home and sold in black. The opening of shops will ensure people don’t go to neighbouring States or brew liquor,” a TASMAC Union member stated.
The state government of Tamil Nadu owns 5,300 TASMAC liquor outlets that employ over 25,000 workers. The state government reportedly lost liquor sales of rupees 90 crores per day during the lockdown.