COIMBATORE/TIRUPUR/SALEM: Despite demands from opposition parties not to open TASMAC outlets during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic situation and the sale of liquor has commenced across the State on Thursday, except Chennai, Chengaplattu, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts.
From morning itself, tipplers thronged the TASMAC outlets, as the liquor shops were opened after a gap of 44 days.
Volunteers employed by TASMAC management gave sanitizer to tipplers to clean their hands, before allowing them to buy liquor.
Only 25 people were allowed in front of each shop and remaining persons were given token and made to wait in nearby places.
Earlier, it was announced that liquor would be sold to people above 50 years of age between 10 am to 1 pm, between 40-50 age between 1 pm to 3 pm and below 40 years of age between 3 pm to 5 pm. But, on Thursday age proof was not checked.
TASMAC authorities were seen making announcements using the public address system that liquor would be sold only to those who come with Aadhaar card and wearing mask.
They also asked tipplers who buy liquor to come only after three days gap. But, TASMAC employees said it is not possible to check this.
In rural areas like Kittampalayam near Annur, there was huge crowd to buy liquor.
Due to public protest against the opening of TASMAC outlet on Boluvampatti road at Puthur near Thondamuthur, the shop was temporarily closed.
Hindu Makkal Katchi founder Arjun Sampath, who staged a silent protest in front of Coimbatore Corporation main office opposing opening of TASMAC, was arrested by city police.
Authorities also said that only one bottle of 750 ml of liquor or four bottles of 150 ml liquor or one bottle of 650 ml beer would be sold per person.
In Tirupur district, as per the district collector K Vijaya Karthikeyan’s direction, liquor was sold only to those who come with an umbrella, so as to maintain social distancing.
A total of 238 TASMAC outlets were opened in Tirupur district and 14 shops in the containment zone remained closed. Two police personnel were deployed in each outlet in the district for strict enforcement of distancing and monitoring of hygiene practices enforced by state government rules.
In Salem district, police drew a line for tipplers to wait in the queue to buy liquor.
At Gorimedu wine shop, around 200 tipplers, not bothered about scorching sun, waited in the long queue on both sides of the wine shop. Police were deployed in all shops to ensure tipplers maintain social distancing.
Assistant commissioners and inspector of concerned station limits are going in rounds and monitoring that government rules are followed in TASMAC outlets.
Speaking to Express, a tippler who was waiting in queue at Mulluvadi gate wine shop on condition of anonymity said that due to government fixing time for aged persons in the morning, we thought rush will be less. But, many have come early in the morning and are waiting in the queue.
Due to checking of age by seeing Aadhaar card or driving license by police and TASMAC staff, distributing of liquor bottles takes time, he added.
Opposition parties including DMK, communist parties have staged protest against the opening of TASMAC outlets on Thursday.
While DMK cadres protested in front of their house by wearing black shirts, CPI and CPM cadres protested by holding black flags and wearing black badge and raised slogan condemning opening of the TASMAC outlets.