NEW DELHI, Apr 25 (Agencies): Hours after the Centre allowed opening of neighbourhood and standalone shops in a late night notification on Friday, the government on Saturday clarified that liquor shops, restaurants, salons and barber shops will continue to remain closed. “In view of queries coming from various sections of society, it is clarified that ALL RESTAURANTS, SALONS & BARBER SHOPS would remain CLOSED. They render services and the relaxations given under the lockdown restrictions yesterday (Friday) pertain only to shops selling items… It is further clarified that sale of liquor and other items continues to be prohibited as specified in the National Directives for COVID-19 management,” the home ministry stated in a series of clarifications on Saturday.
The Centre’s clarification comes after confusion prevailed if liquor shops were included under the allowed categories in Friday’s notification. Despite requests from various quarters to reopen liquor stores, the government has continued with its April 15 guidelines on suspension of
liquor sales. The Central government, in its guidelines for the lockdown issued on April 15, made it clear that there should be a strict ban on the sale of liquor, gutka, tobacco during the lockdown.
Earlier, two states — Assam and Meghalaya — allowed the opening of liquor shops in the first phase of lockdown, which was from March 25 to April 14. However, the liquor shops in the two Northeastern states were ordered to shut down from April 15.
Further, the MHA in its statement on Saturday clarified that “sale by e-commerce companies will continue to be permitted for essential goods only.” “In rural areas, all shops, except those in shopping malls are allowed to open. In urban areas, all standalone shops, neighborhood shops & shops in residential complexes are allowed to open. Shops in markets/market complexes and shopping malls are not allowed to open,” the clarification note stated. In short, shops that can be reopened include neighbourhood and standalone shops, including those located in residential complexes. These shops will mandatorily have only 50 per cent strength of workers, wearing masks and following social distancing. However, the exemptions will not be given in hotspots and containment areas.
Opening of neighbourhood shops is being seen as a relief to people who have been under lockdown since March 24 to contain the spread of novel coronavirus.
The ministry also said shops located in registered markets located outside the municipal corporations and municipalities can open after following the drill of social distancing and wearing of masks but with 50 per cent of strength. However, single and multi-brands shall continue to remain closed in these areas also.