Liquor companies seek nod for online, on-call sale

For tipplers, there may be good news. Liquor companies have petitioned central and state governments to allow both online sales and on-call alcohol purchases, with lockdowns hitting business hard and denying individuals the freedom to buy. The demand for sale was made for regions and areas that are beyond CoVID-19 hotbeds and are secure when it comes to the flow of goods and people.
 

Updated: May 16, 2020 13:40 IST

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Roselet Sheena Merli

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Liquor companies seek nod for online, on-call sale

Companies seek approval for Alcohol Home delivery

Following the lockdown, several Liquor companies have petitioned the central/state governments to allow online sales as well as on-call purchase of alcohol. Several states including Kerala, West Bengal, and Punjab had repeatedly urged the central government to lift the ban on the sale of liquor. They quote the reason as "depletion of state revenues". 

"Home deliveries should be permitted, in particular as it will also help to maintain social distance and prevent crowding in the retail shops," said International Spirits & Wines Association of India (ISWA) and the Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC).

ISWA & CIABC represent companies such as Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Allied Blenders & Distillers, Brown-Forman, Bacardi, Radico Khaitan, Mohan Meakin, and others. "Customers can place an order online or over the phone, along with age-setting ID proof," the associations said, adding that home deliveries would be permitted, subject to the required inspections and diligence.

The associations have said that three to four-movement passes for the personnel engaged in-home delivery should be issued to each qualified shop. To their support, the organizations claim that alcohol income forms a large part of the state's profits, thus allowing the various governments to spend cash on basic needs such as food, shelter, and medicines to the poor.

"Food and alcohol are important commodities according to Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), and so access should also be provided to liquor companies, at least in safe zones," said ISWAI chairman.

Government prohibited sale of liquor due to lockdown

Government of India had prohibited the sale of liquor and paan/gutkha since 24 March, when the first phase of lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Liquor is one of the major contributors to states' coffers.

The Centre on May 1 approved the sale of liquor in standalone wine stores and the sale of paan/gutkha and other tobacco products across the country from May 4 except in COVID-19 containment zones. However, Liquor and paan shops inside malls or marketplaces are not allowed to operate yet. 

Central government has categorized all 733 districts across the country in three zones namely red (hotspots), orange (having a limited number of COVID-19 cases), and green (no cases). Containment zones, the red and orange zones, have been sealed due to a high number of COVID-19 infections. Only essential activities are permitted in these areas.

Liquor companies seek nod for online - FAQ

1. Will alcohol be delivered in the second phase of the COVID-19 lockdown?

The Central government on May 1 approved the sale of liquor in standalone wine stores and the sale of paan/gutkha and other tobacco products across the country from May 4 except in COVID-19 containment zones. However, Liquor and paan shops inside malls or marketplaces are not allowed to operate yet.