Tamil Nadu reopened TASMAC outlets, the state government-owned liquor shops, as part of the relaxations on the COVID-19 restrictions. These shops have been allowed to function in 27 districts from Monday, June 14.
After having imposed strict restrictions for more than a month, the state government announced the reopening of the liquor shops in Chennai, Chengalpet, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur from 10 AM to 5 PM.
TASMAC shops are not allowed to open in 11 districts including Coimbatore, the Nilgiris, Tirupur, Erode, Salem, Karur, Namakkal, Thanjavur, Thiruvarur, Nagapattinam and Mayiladuthurai since the COVID cases are still high in these districts.
Explaining the reason to allow the outlets to operate, Chief Minister MK Stalin, in a video message said, "Despite being aware of attracting criticism, the government permitted reopeing of TASMAC outlets. We do not want people to suffer by consuming illicit arrack and smuggled liquor."
He also cautioned that the relaxations would be withdrawn if people flout the COVID norms, reported The Times of India.
Opposition Hits Back
The decision has attracted sharp criticism from the opposition AIADMK, PMK, and BJP in the state. Raising questions on the decision, the parties said that permitting the liquor shops to operate could risk the spread of coronavirus at a time when the second wave has wreaked havoc in the state and there is a looming threat of a third wave.
TASMAC operates 5,338 stores across the state and sells liquor valued between ₹130 -140 crores per day on average. TASMAC made a record sale of ₹210 crore within six hours on March 24, 2020, a day before the first phase of the lockdown began, and ₹ 220 crore the day before the Janata Curfew began.