The Andhra Pradesh State Government in latest has hiked liquor prices by another 50% as of 5 May 2020, taking the total hiked amount to 75 per cent. The new prices will be levied with effect from 12.00 PM today, as per official sources. Special Chief Secretary (Revenue) Rajat Bhargava said that the steep hike in liquor rates was done to discourage people from purchasing liquor amid the pandemic. Of the total 3500 wine shops in Andhra Pradesh, 2150 shops opened yesterday after the Union Ministry of Home Affairs gave permission to do so. On 4 May 2020 alone (when the prices were hiked by 25%), the business raked up to Rs. 63 crore. Andhra Pradesh State Government officials hope that the situation may differ today, with the liquor prices increase significantly. With its latest move, the Government also aims to reduce the number of wine shops in the state by 15 per cent.
Further, the stores are set to open from 12.00 PM henceforth, instead of the previous 11 AM – 7 PM shift. The AP Government’s move comes in after scores of people limed up outside wine shops all over the state, following no social distancing norms. In hot-spots like Kurnool, Guntur and Krishna districts, hundreds gathered outside each wine shop to get their fix. In this scenario, the Excise Department revised the Additional Retail Excise Tax (ARET) for liquor of all price and quantity ranges.
Closer home in Visakhapatnam, hundreds of people gathered outside, following no social distancing norms outside 35 wine shops that were opened in the city yesterday. On Tuesday, the Visakhapatnam City Police Commissioner issued fresh rules stating that all citizens stepping out of their homes to purchase alcohol must wear protective face masks while at the stores. The police also appealed to citizens to carry umbrellas, so that physical distancing can be practiced easily while waiting in queues.