According to an official, about 150 government-run liquor shops have been allowed to open from 9 am to 6.30 pm in accordance with the latest lockdown relaxations given by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Since early morning, people started thronging the liquor shops in many parts of the city, often throwing social distancing norms to the wind. People were seen gathering outside liquor shops in the Malviya Nagar area from as early as 9 AM. Due to the nationwide lockdown to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, liquor shops across the country were closed since March 25.
Mohit Gupta, a resident of Malviya Nagar, told IANS that people started gathering outside liquor shops in the main market from as early as 8.30 AM. "Many were without masks, violating the social distancing guidelines. It might lead to a major law and order issue. We expect Delhi Police to take action on this issue," said Gupta.
#WATCH Delhi: Long queue seen outside a liquor shop in C-Block, Vasant Vihar. Govt has allowed sale of liquor in standalone shops, neighbourhood (colony) shops or shops in residential complexes. #CoronavirusLockdown pic.twitter.com/WPWdaC6Q1c— ANI (@ANI) May 4, 2020
Long queues were seen outside liquor shops in the Lajpat Nagar area. Similarly, a large crowd had gathered outside the liquor shop in Lado Sarai, which led to traffic jam in the area. "People had left their vehicles on the road outside the liquor shop, as everybody was in a rush to buy booze. People were wearing masks, but they were not maintaining sufficient distance while standing in the queue," said Ankit Kalra, a resident of Lado Sarai.
An official said an alcohol vend had to be closed in Mayur Vihar in east Delhi as people failed to maintain social distancing norms. Similar cases were reported from the north and central Delhi.
With people gathering in large numbers, the police had to resort to mild force. "Shops were asked to shut in places where social distancing norms were violated. At some places, a mild force was also used to disperse the crowd," a senior police official said.
A plainclothes police personnel raises his baton to disperse the crowd outside a wine shop after authorities permitted sale of liquor with certain restrictions, during the ongoing COVID-19 nationwide lockdown, at Chander Nagar in East Delhi. PTI
Liquor shops in Karol Bagh, Daryagang, and DB Gupta road in central Delhi were shut by the police after crowds, gathered to purchase liquor, did not maintain social distancing norms, said another senior police official.
Liquor outlets in Jyoti Nagar and Dayalpur were also closed within an hour after it opened due to overcrowding and violation of social distancing norms, the police official.
"According to an order issued by the government, liquor shops were directed to deploy marshals at the outlets to maintain social distancing. However, a liquor shop near Apsara Border was asked to close since they did not deploy a marshal at their outlet nor were they able to maintain social distancing norms. A police constable waiting outside the shop said they had to disperse people as a large number had queued outside, without heeding to the social distancing norms.
Delhi government earns revenue of Rs 5,000 crore from the sale of liquor. The government has directed four state-run agencies, which are responsible to sell liquor, to deploy adequate marshals at these shops.