As India walked into the third phase of the lockdown some walked into purchasing their first non-essential commodity. Ever since the outbreak of the coronavirus began most economic activities came to a standstill. All kinds of shops except the ones which sold items essential for basic sustenance of life were allowed to be kept open. India chose to protect its citizens over its economy because ever since shops were closed the cost of protecting the citizens from the spread of the pandemic was paid by the grim numbers that accounted for the growth of the economy. This was until the third phase of the lockdown. In this phase, the country is trying to retrieve the falling and failing growth conditions.
One of the ways that have been adopted by the government was to allow the reopening of alcohol selling shops all over the country. What is worth knowing here is that even though the country has been divided into three zones, i.e., red, orange and green based on the spread of the virus, shops all over the country have been opened. This has helped in bringing back some revenue to the government but has also opened up a huge risk factor.
Ever since the shops opened social media sites have been flooded with videos of people standing in long queues and waiting for long hours. The risk that arises here is of allowing people in all three zones to get out of their houses with the excuse of buying alcohol. The high amounts of arrests of people disobeying the rules of the lockdown have proven that without the cops keeping an eye people will not follow the rules. Therefore the opening of alcohol shops needs extra supervision by the police. This will increase the workload of the already tiring jobs that the police are doing. Needless to say, the circus that over-drinkers will create also has to be taken care of by the cops.
In a country like India where about 50,000 cases have been reported in the stricter phases of the lockdown, taking this liberty could cost us a lot more than a reviving economy. There always remains the risk of one of the people standing in these long lines for such a long time could be having the virus but has not been tested yet. If that does happen it creates a chance of the virus spreading to not only the other people in the queues but even the people they stay with. As much as we are trying to help our fore-line warriors in this fight, an occurrence of such an event will prove the contrary.
The opening of the shops have helped in generating a huge amount of revenue as the state of Karnataka is reported to take earned about Rs.45 crore on the first day itself. This could be looked at as a positive side but it also shows that a large number of people have left their homes and crowded together at shops to buy their alcohol. Along with these, there are the usual ill effects of people drinking over their limits and falling sick. In an article by ZeeNews, alcohol is said to claim 2,60,000 lives every year which comes down to 29 people every hour and 712 a day. This is a lot less than the lives claimed by the coronavirus itself. Therefore arises the question if the government has allowed to a bigger monster to fight a smaller one.
Looking at the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor, most of the poor people are finding it more and more difficult to live with every passing day. Most of these people live on what they earn daily. As much as the government has tried to provide relief to them, the opening of the shops could pose a dangerous poison to the already stressed and perplexed poor of the country. If people start falling ill from alcohol consumption that will create an extra load of work for the already very busy medical care units.
One of the good policies that are adopted is the delivering of alcohol to homes like groceries and other items have previously been done. Instead of selling it directly to the general public delivering it to the homes of people as per orders placed by them provides a much better solution to most of the problems. This could stop people from leaving their homes and following the quarantine during the lockdown and also solve the problem of the falling revenue of the government. Higher prices could be charged like they are being now and illegal selling could also be curbed as people are generally not allowed to leave their homes.