The opening up of liquor stores last week saw thousands of people flocking to them. Videos emerged where the alcohol stores were overcrowded, with concerns raised over the flouting of social distancing norms.
However, that may soon a thing of the past. The Supreme Court on Friday said that states could explore the option of an online sale or home delivery of alcohol to avoid crowding at the liquor stores.
What Courts Say on Home Delivery of Alcohol
While the court dismissed a plea against the re-opening of liquor stores, the apex court also said: “However, it shall be open for the concerned state government to consider non-direct sale including online sale/home delivery of liquor to facilitate social distancing”.
The ruling builds upon that of the Madras High Court. The bench said that till the time the lockdown is in place, the government can resort to using online and home delivery models to facilitate alcohol sales. The courter order read “In the COVID-19 locked down period to maintain the social distancing protocol and also boost the State revenue, it is imperative that the Government of Tamil Nadu should look at the option of online sale and home delivery."
States Have Already Opened Online Liquor Stores
Even before the Supreme Court’s suggestions, several states had already moved to the online models to ensure delivery of alcohol.
An Indian Express report pointed out that as many as 7-8 states are working on implementing home delivery of alcohol, with the same being scheduled to start over the next 2 weeks.
States like Chhattisgarh, Punjab and West Bengal have already started delivering alcohol to the doorsteps, with several others such as Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu etc. expected to follow suit.
A document accessed by Reuters showed that even food aggregator Zomato is looking to join the bandwagon. Mohit Gupta, the company’s CEO for food delivery wrote a business proposal to International Spirits and Wines Association of India (ISWAI) that “We believe that a technology-enabled home delivery based solution can promote responsible consumption of alcohol.”
How Online Delivery Of Alcohol Works
With home delivery of alcohol started by some states last week, it gives us an insight on how doorstep delivery of alcohol during lockdown can look like.
Home delivery of liquor started in Punjab from 7th May, with a maximum of two litres of liquor allowed for home delivery against a cash memo. The timing for the same was fixed from 1 pm to 6 pm
Similarly, home delivery of liquor was allowed in the green zones by the Chhattisgarh government. An online portal was launched for the same, with their also being CSMCL (Chhattisgarh State Marketing Corporation Limited) mobile application for people to order booze from.
A cap of 5000ml was placed on online orders, with delivery charges costing ?120 being charged for delivering alcohol to your doorstep.
The West Bengal government is doing something on the same lines. The State Beverages Corporation (BEVCO) launched a website through which people over 21 years of age can place orders.
The customers can register on the website by providing details such as address and contact number. Following which the registered users can order liquor from the designated stores on the website.
For a long time, home delivery of alcohol hasn’t been possible due to legislation and bureaucratic tape. The lockdown has tipped the hand of government where they have to look at unprecedented ways to ensure the safe delivery of alcohol. For people who’ve always lobbied for home delivery of alcohol, this can only mean a good thing.