Bev Q, the much-awaited virtual queue management app for liquor sale in Kerala, has received Google's nod, paving way for the reopening of outlets and the sale of liquor across the state.
The app can be used to generate tokens from 6am on Thursday, the day liquor sales resume in the state, Excise Minister T P Ramakrishnan said on Wednesday.
The app, owned by the Beverages Corporation (BEVCO), will soon be listed in Google's Play Store. Users will be able to make online bookings and get virtual tokens in the app using which liquor could be purchased from the prescribed outlet or bars.
The app was developed by Faircode, a Kochi-based startup. The company was reportedly chosen as the app's developer on the instructions of the IT Secretary and CEO of Startup Mission.
The developers said that the beta version of the app received Google's clearance on Monday and it will be up and running soon after trial runs.
Tipplers in Kerala have been making fervent searches for the app on the Google Play Store since BEVCO released its name. This indicates that a high number of searches and downloads for the app is likely once it is up, leading to technical snags and crashes.
However, the developers have assured that the app can handle bookings from users up to 35 lakh simultaneously, Manorama Online reported.
The Kerala government had decided to develop the app to avoid overcrowding at the liquor outlets across the state when they resume operations after being shut for over two months due to the COVID-19 induced lockdown.
With an e-token, the person will be directed to a particular outlet or bar which is near to him as per the GPS location. This is to avoid people travelling far to buy liquor.
Adhering to the Centre's guidelines, the state government has decided not to open the bars but has agreed to sell liquor as a takeaway from special retail counters.
As many as 551 bars and 260 beer and wine parlours had given consent letter to state-run Beverages Corporation, to sell alcohol as takeaways. For each token issued, beer and wine parlours have to give fifty paise to Faircode, that developed the app.
"As per the government decision, there will be a retail counter at bars to sell liquor as a takeaway at BEVCO prices. The state government has asked for a permission letter from all the bar owners," a senior official of the excise department said.
He said safety measures would be taken at outlets and the counters.
Kerala State Beverages Corporation MD G Sparjan Kumar earlier said the process of disinfecting the state-run outlets were being held across the state and instruction had been issued to the staff on how to deal with the customer once the shops are open.
The state government had said the liquor outlets would open as and when the online system is ready and bars can sell liquor and food as a takeaway. The state government has also said licensed clubs can sell liquor and food to their members as a takeaway with strict restrictions on the number of persons.
Restrictions for purchase
Customers who place orders through the virtual queue app will receive a token with a QR code on their mobile phone. The bar licensee has to verify this e-token with another app and sell the liquor to the customer.
Those who make bookings through the SMS method will receive the token code as a text message. This code also should be checked by the licence holder with his app before the sales.
The consumer can select the brand at the outlet and make the payment. In the first phase, the liquor brand cannot be selected on the app.
According to a set of directives issued by the state government, a person can buy liquor only once in four days. It is also directed that people waiting in the queue should maintain a distance of six feet. All customers would be checked with a thermal scanner and people showing symptoms of the disease would not be sold liquor. Moreover, the number of persons in a queue will be limited to five.
Those who do not possess e-token will not be allowed in the queue. Only three litres of liquor would be sold at a time to a customer to the maximum, that too as a takeaway. All conditions in the Abkari Act would also be followed while making the sale.
People living in places designated as Red Zones given the COVID-19 pandemic would not be able to place orders for liquor through the app.
Bars located in Containment Zones and those functioning as quarantine centres have informed the matter to the Beverages Corporation. The bars have also been directed to check their stock daily and pass on the details to the Corporation.