The Madras High Court on Friday ordered the closure of liqour shops run by the only liquour seller in Tamil Nadu, the state government-owned Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation Limited (TASMAC). The court said that online sales of liquor could be allowed in the State.
The opening of shops in districts, except Chennai on May 7, has resulted in people thronging the outlets without maintaining social distancing norms at a time when the number of Covid-19 cases in the state are seeing an upsurge. Tamil Nadu posted 600 new Covid-19 positive cases on Friday, taking the total number of Covid-19 positive cases in the state to 6,009.
The court issued the order on Friday after observing that social distancing norms were violated and said that these outlets should be closed till the lockdown is in effect. The judges also took notice of the video recordings of the large crowds in front of the liquour outlets after they resumed operations on Thursday.
According to reports, the first day sales of Tasmac shops resulted in sales of Rs 170 crore worth of liquor. Short videos of people queuing up in front of the shops and violating social distancing norms, without masks, were widely circulated on social media. Makkal Neethi Maiyam, the political party formed by actor Kamal Haasan, had approached the high court alleging that opening liquor shops would further increase the chances of spreading the virus. The opposition party - Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) - also raised similar allegations and demanded closure of the shops.
On Friday, the state reported 600 new Covid-19 cases and three deaths, taking the total death toll in Tamil Nadu to 40. The total number of cases till date in Tamil Nadu is around 6,009, of which 4,361 are active cases. Of the total, 1,589 positive cases are linked to Koyambedu market, the largest vegetable and fruits market in this part of the country. Of the total cases reported today, 399 are from Chennai, and the city remains to be in red zone with the total number of cases reported so far at 3,043. Thiruvallur district reported 75 cases, the second highest today.