Booze lovers throng stores as liquor sales resume in Karnataka

Bengaluru: Booze lovers ushered in the resumption of liquor sales in a spirited fashion in Karnataka onMonday thronging stores hours before shutters went up at severalplaces and made no secret of their celebratory mood.

At some places, they flocked liquor shops even before day-break and performed “special prayers” with flowers, coconuts,incense sticks, camphor and crackers in front of the stores.

Liquor outlets had been shut in the State from March 25following the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Excise revenue loss during the period was about Rs 2,500crore, according to government sources.

About 4,500 standalone liquor outlets (CL-2 and CL- 11licence holders), which comprise wine stores and those owned bystate-run Mysore Sales International Limited, outside containmentzones were allowed to be opened from Monday from 9 am to 7 pm withsome restrictions.

These include customers compulsorily wearing of facemasks andmaintaining social distancing with not more than five people inside liquor shops.

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Many customers were indeed well-prepared.

At many places, they came with umbrella, raincoat, newspapersand books and queued up as early as 3 am.

At a liquor shop in Salegame Road in Hassan, the tipplerslit the traditional lamp and incense sticks, performed ‘aarati’with camphor and decorated the store with the garland of flowers.

Withfolded hands, they all performed ‘special prayers’.

In Mandya, the tipplers queued up before Martaanda liquorshop before dawn.

An hour before the sales were to resume, a fewpeople burst crackers in celebration.

Some tipplers in Belagavi were more “enterprising.”

They wentto a liquor store on Sunday night itself, performed special prayersand placed their “representatives” in the form of slippers, bags and stones in the “social distancing boxes” they themselves had drawn sothat they don’t have to stand in queue in the morning.

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An elderly woman Dakamma was the centre of attraction in Shivamogga.

The bent body did not bend the determination of this spirited lady, claimed to be 96-year-old, who was heard saying “liquor is goodfor health.”

At the taluk headquarters town of Brahmavara in the coastal Udupidistrict, the queue of the booze lovers was reported to be almosthalf-a-kilometre.

Long queues were seen at liquor stores at Mariyappana Palyaand K R Puram, among others, in Bengaluru.

The store managers too were no less cautious while dealingwith customers in the COVID era.

They let the customers enter afterspraying sanitisers in their hands, and allowed only those who hadworn masks and maintained social distancing.

To maintain law and order, authorities had deployed policemen in good numbers at these stores and they were seen on duty ensuringthat customers maintained social distancing.

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