CHENNAI: After a dry spell of 43 days, liquor sale resumed at State-run outlets in Tamil Nadu except Chennai amid bursting of crackers and distribution of cakes by some boisterous booze lovers as zealous consumers lined up in front of the stores since early morning to get their quota.
Opposing the move to reopen the liquor stores, DMK president M K Stalin, clad in black, held a placard and a black flag in front of his house here against restart of sale at booze shops.
Slogans were raised briefly by DMK workers demanding the government to close down the outlets.
Stalin had claimed that opening of liquor shops would lead to further increase in the spread of coronavirus.
His party's allies including the MDMK and Left parties too opposed the move.
Even before the shops were opened at 10 am in non- containment zones, the queue extended upto a few kilometers in several localities including those that fall under Cuddalore, Villupuram, Kancheepuram, Chengelpet and Tiruvallur districts.
In all districts, since a chunk of shops fell either in the containment or buffer zones, these were not opened.
Some youngmen burst crackers and distributed cakes in Tirupur and in Madurai district consumers performed the traditional 'aarti' to usher in the opening of liquor shops.
Store workers sported masks and gloves while dispensing alcoholic beverages.
People in Tirupur were seen in front of liquor stores with umbrellas as per a directive of the district administration to maintain social distance.
Liquor outlets were shut on March 24 at 6 pm in Tamil Nadu and the stores are open from today between 10 am and 5 pm.
The resumption of sale witnessed implementation of new rules to prevent crowding, and ensure that only people from the local areas bought liquor within the set daily ceiling (750 ml).
Tokens were issued by authorities after checking Aadhar and other kinds of government issued cards for age / residential proof.
Based on the token, consumers were sold liquor bottles.
Wearing of masks and maintaining social distance were among the norms stipulated by the authorities.
Barricades were put on the roadsides -ahead of the liquor stores- to ensure that people did not spill over into the roads.
Police personnel used megaphones and public address system to regulate crowd and there were no reports of any untoward incidents.
Fixing time slot for specific age groups, the police set 10 am to 1 pm for people aged over 50 years, from 1 pm to 3 pm for those between 40-50 years and to those below 40, 3 pm to 5 pm was the set time.
Police had warned that tough action will be taken against those who ventured out from Chennai to outlets in neighbouring districts of Tiruvallur, Chengelpet and Kancheepuram to buy booze.
Chennai Police Commissioner A K Viswanathan inspected several checkpoints in the fringes of the city as part of measures to ensure that people do not violate norms by travelling to far away places from the State capital areas to buy booze.
Each and every store has been making brisk business which is expected to bring a good revenue for the Tamil Nadu government, which raised liquor prices to a maximum of Rs 20 from today.
The government has not allowed liquor sale in Chennai city and those on the periphery including Tambaram (Chengelpet district), Poonamalle (Tiruvallur district) and Ayyappanthangal (Kancheepuram district).
Though such areas fall under different districts, these come under the jurisdiction of Chennai police.
Such areas under city police limits are disallowed from opening outlets while other areas in these districts have opened their outlets.