Get ready to buy booze as liquor shops set to reopen with relaxations in corona restrictions – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Tipplers can look forward to replenish their liquor stocks very soon. With partial lifting of lockdown restrictions coming in from May 4, liquor companies say that they expect a large part of the standalone shops to open over the next few days (not in malls and markets), as states give orders to get the business going under strict social distancing and safety norms.
Companies have started production in states such as UP, Assam and Karnataka, as per the International Spirits & Wines Association of India (ISWAI), and are now hoping for start of sales of whiskey, rum, vodka, gin and beer, but under strict safety and hygiene norms.
Companies looking to start business include Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Allied Blenders & Distillers, Brown-Forman, Bacardi, Mohan Meakin and Radico Khaitan.
For the states, this would ring in immediate revenues as annual tax collections from liquor are to the tune of Rs 2.5 lakh crore, or nearly Rs 700 crore a day, Amrit Kiran Singh, chairman of ISWAI, told TOI.
States had been pushing the central government for permission to open liquor shops as the business provides a large tax collection for their coffers. However, despite the nudge, the Centre had earlier dismissed the demand, though finally it has relented.
Singh said that ISMAI has prepared a ‘safe shield’ programme that will list out the dos and don’ts for the liquor vends and the buyers. “There will be masks sanitisers, gloves, and a tray that will be used to collect payment and handover the bottles. Also, there will be markings outside where people will need to stand before they can purchase.”
Vinod Giri, director-general of Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC), said they expect most of the large plants to start production. “In any case, most of the distilleries are within rural areas or industrial zones, where the restrictions now are not heavy. These are in states such as Maharashtra, UP, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu.”

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