One in two orders placed for home deliveries of alcohol in Maharashtra came from Mumbai this week. While a total of 49,373 orders were placed, senior excise department officials claimed, 24,615 were from Mumbai alone. Mumbai has forbidden counter sales of liquor to avoid big crowds outside beer and wine shops. It was also one of the last districts to permit home deliveries of liquor. While the state had first permitted home deliveries from May 15 onwards, the Mumbai civic body allowed it in both the island city and suburbs only three days ago. According to Excise Department’s statistics, 3,062 orders were placed across Mumbai on May 23, the first day of sales after it was permitted. The numbers rose to 18,964 on May 24 and further grew to 24,615 Monday. Mumbai has 1,190 retail liquor stores in all. By Monday evening, 424 out of these or 36 per cent of licensed shops had commenced home deliveries after acquiring necessary permissions.
The department is expecting most of the stores situated outside the 600-odd containment zones to avail the option in the coming days. “There are conditions that a store owner must meet before permitting home deliveries. Senior Excise Department’s official said ““We expect home deliveries to further pick up during the week with more stores expected to start sales, this includes getting all the delivery staff medically screened and obtaining identification cards for them from the department”.
On expected lines, the home delivery option has been more popular in the bigger cities. According to the officials, a bulk of the 3,31,655 orders placed since May 15 have stemmed from urban neighborhoods. After the initial rush outside stores, department also said that social-distancing measures outside liquor stores are being implemented more effectively. Meanwhile, Bar owners have requested custody of their liquor licence for the current financial year on payment of 10% of the licence fees as they say they do not foresee any business till March after re-opening their establishments once the lockdown conditions are relaxed.
They wrote a letter stating the situation was likely to force 35% of restaurants to close. The bar owners said they would not even be able to recover the annual licence fees, which starts at Rs 8 lakh, as their business would be limited to a certain level of takeaway orders till a Covid-19 vaccine is developed and brings confidence among consumers. The letter addressed to commissioner Kantilal Umap said the bar owners would do their best to ensure sanitation by reducing seating and by introducing gloves, masks and sanitisers but the consumers might take a long time to come back in full force.