SC Stays Liquor Ban; TASMAC Stores To Re-open In TN Today

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NEW DELHI: Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) liquor shops will be re-opened on Saturday after the Supreme Court on Friday paved the way for it by staying a Madras High Court order that had earlier directed its closure on grounds of violating ministry's guidelines such as physical distancing.

However, those shops in the jurisdiction of the Greater Chennai police and in neighbouring Tiruvallur district would remain closed. Liquor shops in malls, shopping complexes and containment zones will also not be opened.

The shops will open from 10 am to 5 pm and only 500 tokens will be issued for each shop on a daily basis. Wearing masks is mandatory for customers, according to an official release.

On May 8, the Madras high court had ordered closure of liquor outlets noting that there were huge crowds and no social distancing was being maintained by tipplers. It, however, had allowed doorstep delivery of booze through online mode.

The high court order restraining sale of liquor off the counters was passed on a petition filed by advocate G Rajesh, besides a plaint from the actor Kamal Haasan-led Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM).

After a dry spell of 43 days due to the COVID-19 lockdown since late March, liquor sales resumed at TASMAC outlets in Tamil Nadu, except state capital Chennai, on May 7.

Heavy rush was witnessed at most places with people standing in serpentine queues even as the move to allow sale of liquor came in for flak from opposition parties and others, who raised apprehensions that it would lead to further spread of the novel coronavirus, which as of May 8 has affected over 6,000 people in the state.

Tipplers in border districts of the state were also making a beeline to neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka where liquor sales resumed on May 4.

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