TASMAC shops to be opened from May 7; tipplers happy, experts worried

Liquor shops in Tamil Nadu will reopen on May 7 in areas where Covid-19 is under control and will function between 10 am and 5 pm, said a release by the state government on Monday night.

“Shops in Covid-19 hotspots will not be opened. But in other areas, they will be opened with some precautions,” said the statement. No decision has been made on opening of bars.

There should be no crowding outside the outlets, social distancing – a gap of six metres – should be followed between two customers and there should not be more than four people near the shop at any given point in time, it said.

Bringing in cheers to the tipplers, the Tamil Nadu government on Monday announced resumption of liquor sales from May 7 after a long dry spell due to Covid-19 lockdown since March 24, but ruled out opening the shops in containment zones.

The decision to open the state-run retail outlets across Tamil Nadu was taken after people in districts bordering Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh started making a beeline to liquor shops there which started functioning from Monday, posing a challenge in controlling people’s movement, the government said in a release.

While tipplers are no doubt happy, health experts and politicians are worried over this development. In a tweet, AMMK founder TTV Dhinakaran said, “The decision by the Tamil Nadu government to open Tasmac outlets from May 7 is atrocious and should be condemned.”

He added: “When the number of positive cases are on the rise by hundreds in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu, the decision to open liquor shops is akin to playing with people’s lives.”