Guwahati: Residents of Guwahati city of Assam, who have long been pining for a pint of rum or whiskey amid the lockdown, can now start salivating at the prospects of enjoying their favorite beverages once again, as wine shops are to re-open from Monday.
This news, that will bring much relief to alcoholics as well as casual drinkers who might be seeking an "escape route" during the lockdown.
It has been cautioned, however, that the sellers, as well as customers, shall have to maintain social distancing and other norms that have been prescribed by the Government meant to contain the spread of the dreaded contagion. Moreover, the sellers of alcoholic drinks will need to keep hand-sanitizers ready at the counters to minimize the risk of transmission.
The Assam State Government has decided to re-open the shops and business establishments in Guwahati city to inject a new lease of life into the sagging economy. Opening of the wine shops, no doubt, will prove to be a step in that direction as alcoholic beverages contribute massively towards the state exchequer's finances. At the same time, other shops and business establishments will also be reopened for the public from Monday through Friday through the non-curfew hours. Today's directive will be applicable for the next two weeks.
The last time the wine shops were opened for business after a long drought (pun intended), complete pandemonium ensued in Guwahati city and snaking lines could be seen in front of shops selling the "elixir of life" (for some).
Similar scenes played out across the country where crores upon crores of money exchanged hands in a matter of days.
According to government data, around 16 crore people in India drink alcohol on a regular basis. In India, no person under the age of 21 is allowed to drink alcohol, but 75 per cent of the youth learn to drink before they turn 21, said a survey conducted in different cities of India.