JAMMU: Liquor shops opened across Jammu region on Wednesday after over a month-long closure owing to Covid induced lockdown, drawing heavy rush of tipplers who were seen standing in long queues, officials said.
Policemen have been deployed outside wine shops to maintain order and ensure adherence of Covid-19 guidelines but at many places there were complaints of flouting of social distancing norms by the waiting customers, they said.
The liquor shops were closed in the last week of April following imposition of coronavirus curfew after a successful e-auction which fetched Rs 140 crore for one year to the government.
The e-auction replaced the traditional practice of renewal of license, leaving majority of 228 liquor traders without a job. However, the setting up of new wine shops in residential areas led to protests by local residents against the excise department, with protesters seeking intervention of Lt Governor Manoj Sinha to shift out the establishments from their areas.
As the shops opened Wednesday morning, people turned up in good numbers and were seen waiting in long queues to buy liquor. Police had a tough time making the waiting customers adhere to the social distancing norms, officials said.
Meanwhile, volunteers of Red Cross were seen making rounds of different markets in the city to make people aware about the need for social distancing and wearing of masks. The volunteers, dressed in special costumes depicting the virus, went around the city and asked people, including those waiting for liquor, to follow the government guidelines and norms.
The process of unlocking began in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday after a prolonged Covid curfew with partial reopening of shops. The private transporters also resumed their operations from Wednesday after remaining off the roads for the past 42 days in protest against the government decision to cap the seating capacity at 50 per cent in passenger vehicles without hiking the fare. The transporters said they have resumed the operations after government allowed them to operate with 100 per cent capacity in some areas.
They went on an indefinite strike on April 21 after the government came out with new Covid guidelines, demanding a 50 per cent hike in passenger fare to facilitate smooth operations with 50 per cent passengers on board. (AGENCY)