Delhi government has directed all hotels, clubs, restaurants and liquor vends not to sell alcohol during the nationwide lockdown. The move comes after the Excise Department found out that some establishments were smuggling liquor from their premises.
Excise Commissioner Ravi Dhawan warned all licensees such as clubs, hotels, restaurants, wholesale and liquor outlets against indulging in illicit sale of liquor during the lockdown until further orders.
In the revised guidelines on lockdown 2.0, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had asked district magistrates across India to enforce a strict ban on sale of liquor, gutka and tobacco products. As a result, the Delhi Police and the Excise Department were cracking down on those indulging in selling or transporting alcohol illegally. According to PTI, the excise department seized nearly 8,400 liquor bottles of different brands during the lockdown. In one such case, police intercepted an ambulance, which was illegally transporting 25 cartons of liquor.
Earlier this month, the Excise Department raided a club in Punjabi Bagh area in west Delhi for selling alcohol at a higher rate during the lockdown. In a separate raid, the department seized 6,100 bottles, including some high-end brands.
Delhi has over 860 liquor shops that have been closed since March 25. Delhi earns Rs 5,000 crore from liquor sale every year.
Earlier, on April 14, the Delhi government was exploring the possibility of opening liquor shops in the city during the lockdown. As per the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, alcoholic beverages fall under the definition of food, which is an exempted item under the national lockdown.
However, the idea was dropped subsequently due to rising number of coronavirus cases in Delhi. As of April 22, Delhi reported 2,156 confirmed cases of coronavirus. And, the death toll stood at 47. A total of 611 patients have got recovered or discharged so far.
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