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Liquor shops will open for the next six days starting from May 11 in Meghalaya but on condition that customers and wine shops owners should maintain strict hygiene besides observing physical distancing rules and wearing masks amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Meghalaya Excise Commissioner Pravin Bakshi said that selected wine stores and bonded warehouses will open from May 11 to May 16 from 9 am to 4 pm.

He, however, said wine stores close to the international border, narrow roads and lanes compromising the interest of social distancing and in areas with high transmission risk will not open.

On May 8, the Meghalaya government hiked 25 per cent on the maximum retail price for liquor to generate additional excise revenue to the tune of Rs 120-130 crore approximately to meet the unexpected financial burden and expenditures arising out of the COVID-19 situation in the state.

“The sale of liquor shall not exceed three litres of foreign liquor or wine and four litres of beer, per customer,” Bakshi said, adding that only one person per household is allowed to visit the wine store for purchase.

He said that owners of the liquor stores will utilize their own staff and personally be responsible to ensure social distancing of at least six feet is maintained between customers, no overcrowding takes place or assembly of five or more persons in the vicinity of the shop, respiratory etiquette and to strictly follow all directions and advisories issued by the health and family welfare department with reference to COVID-19 situation.

“Wine stores owners should mandatorily take appropriate measures to prevent people from crowding and breaking social distancing norm in their respective premises and failure to enforce these prescribed norms will warrant the closure of such wine store,” the Excise official said.

“If there is violation of these instructions and advisories and spitting in public places by any person, be it wine store owners or customers alike, they shall be liable to be prosecuted under Section 269 and 188 of IPC, Section 133 of CrPC and other relevant provisions of law,” Bakshi warned.

The Excise Commissioner directed district officers of excise department to enforce the prescribed norms with the support of police, concerned sub divisional officers (civil), block development officers and zonal team leaders in their respective districts.

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