Rajesh Tope on Monday said there should not be any ban on liquor shops in the state if social distancing measures, in place to curb the COVID-19 spread, are strictly followed.
Liquor shops are closed in the state since last month when the coronavirus-enforced lockdown was implemented.
"If social distancing is properly maintained, there should not be any ban on liquor shops," he said.
Tope was replying to a question on the state government not clarifying, in its April 17 notification, whether liquor shops will be allowed to remain open after it permitted the resumption of industrial and business activities in non-coronavirus hotspots.
The health minister did not provide further details, but his response gave an impression about the possibility of allowing liquor shops to function with social distancing measures in place.
However, senior officials in the excise department categorically nixed any such possibility.
Liquor shops are closed as per the orders issued under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and the Disaster Management Act, 2005, because they do not fall in the category of essential commodities, a senior excise official told PTI.