The states across the country had allowed stand-alone liquor shops to open from morning to evening time at the orange and green zones marked in the cities. Shops in crowded markets and malls had to remain shut. To get the liquor major cities saw people line up in huge queues stretching across the pavements and streets. Even as the states had put 70% surcharge on the price of liquor their were millions of takers and the liquor was sold out. Unfortunately, no one adhered to proper social distancing as people jostled, pushed, and shoved to get their bottle.
No one maintained a safe distance people were nudging and pushing each other. The government had stipulated that people were face masks, payments were to be handled online, so no touch of notes, and liquor to be taken in own bags. In spite of the guidelines, there was a mad rush for booze. This relaxation has costed some states like Delhi and cities like Mumbai which have seen a surge of COVID cases and deaths post opening of shops and some relaxation.
The government has asked for the shops to shut down again and rolled back the relaxation due to the virus surge. This cat and mouse game will continue to be payed as relaxation of lockdown is bound to increase infection. The government thought it is better to give booze to the masses at least they can forget their plight and misery and would for some time lose their worries in alcohol.
Also, the extra revenue due to the surcharge would help as state governments across the country are losing sales tax revenue. Their coffees are stained due to needing the food and transportation needs of the migrant laborers and the unemployed day wage earners, who are eating into the state exchequer. The booze sale has given them the added excise revenue they badly need, abet leading to a rise in infection. The government has kept health issues on the back burner and totally taken a political decision on this opening of liquor shops.
One other decision of allowing e-commerce giants like Flipkart and amazon to do home delivery of essential products only and the other nonessential products they are letting people buy those form local trader shops. That is a political decision to safeguard Indian retailers even though the delivery mechanism of the commerce platforms in quick, efficient, and safe from a health point of view.
It is important to say that until there is a nationwide drop in COVD 19 infections all the decisions that the government should take regards opening up and the economy should put the health of the people above all else and then rationally take a call or make a decision. That is not being shown currently.
The revenue generated from liquor sales is over 3.1 lakh crores for the Indian Government. More then sixteen crore people drink at least 6 l of liquor a year in India. Uttar Pradesh alone earned 31000 crores from the sale of alcohol.