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Yes, you read it right. The Government’s decision to exclude liquor from the list of essential items that are allowed to be sold during the lockdown is a huge mistake, and a healthcare disaster waiting to happen.

There are essentially two reasons for this:
1. People who are used to drinking everyday will suffer from withdrawal symptoms, which can be fatal, as noted in an article in the Indian Express.
2. People will inevitably end up consuming illicitly manufactured liquor (hooch).

The second reason is what makes shutting the liquor stores a food safety problem. Over the years, there have been numerous instances where hundreds of people have died from consuming toxic hooch.

A hooch poisoning crisis is a major healthcare issue on any given day. However, at a time when the COVID-19 epidemic is poised to stretch India’s healthcare resources to the breaking point, it is something that cannot be allowed to happen.  

The Government must allow liquor stores to open up, because the last thing India needs right now is hundreds of thousands of people requiring emergency care due to alcohol related issues. Also, it is not difficult for individual liquor stores to ensure that their customers take the necessary social distancing precautions while buying liquor. 

The bottom line is that the Kerala and Punjab Governments got it right. Alcohol is an essential item, and the Central Government must issue a notification, allowing liquor shops to operate.

Read the Indian Express article here:

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