The BMC on Friday finally issued orders allowing home delivery of liquor during the lockdown; across-the-counter sale remains barred.
Deliveries will not be allowed in containment zones, or areas where a Covid-19 patient or his high-risk contacts live.
While the order permits shops to operate from Friday midnight, a retail liquor vendors’ association said its members would be able to implement it only from Sunday as they need an excise pass for staff, transport vehicles, and a go-ahead from collectors. The shops may also tie-up with e-commerce platforms for the purpose.
However, association president Arvind Miskin said currently there was no plan to join hands with e-commerce platforms as such a move might lead to customers having to pay more.
All other measures to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak remain in force, which means all malls, markets and complexes would remain closed. Only shops selling essential goods in markets and complexes would be permitted.
Sumit Chawala, a liquor vendor association vice-president and a shop owner, said shops had no intention of tying up with the e-commerce chains as there was more than enough staff and infrastructure with the retailers. “It will be like snatching their bread and butter if we tie-up,” he said.
A May 12 order of the state government that had allowed home delivery suggested that tipplers may ask for liquor—barring country liquor—to be delivered to their home address from retail shops in their neighbourhood during the period of lockdown.
In many cities, the facility came into effect a week ago. Only the city and Aurangabad were awaiting endorsement from their respective municipal commissioners.
The state government permission had given the impression that orders for purchase should be placed only through phone calls or messages. Later, the detailed guidelines suggested that e-commerce platforms would be allowed to tie up with the retailers and wholesalers, indicating a shift to an online mechanism of placing orders.
The home delivery system promises prevention of crowding at liquor shops, helping the local administration ensure physical distancing.
The sale of liquor will help the excise ministry meet its revenue targets. Excise officials pegged the losses in March and April at Rs 1,800 crore.
To ensure that items like beer do not cross their sell-by date, the state excise allowed bars and permit rooms to sell their stock to either liquor shops or parcel customers during the lockdown. They may not, though, purchase new stock to sell in this manner.
Some liquor shops in parts of the state where across-the-counter-sale is allowed have implemented the e-token system, where the shop issues token numbers with fixed timings to the consumers through the phone or an app developed by liquor wholesalers. The consumers collect their stock in the time slot allotted for their token number.
The excise department mandated that delivery would be made to only those possessing drinking permits and the staff deployed for the delivery of liquor use a mask and hand sanitisers at frequent intervals.
It is mandatory for the delivery person to have a medical certificate of fitness duly signed by a doctor and possess an identity card.
It is the responsibility of owners to ensure that no contagious diseases spread through the delivery person and to take care of proper storage during transportation.