BEVCO revises liquor outlet timings; to reduce Onam rush, say officials

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala State Beverages Corporation (BEVCO) on Thursday revised the timing of its liquor outlets in an effort to reduce crowding.

Liquor outlets in Kerala are now open from 9 am to 8 pm. Earlier, they were open until 7 pm.

BEVCO has announced a slew of measures in wake of the Kerala High Court voicing its concern over the non-implementation of COVID-19 guidelines at liquor stores,

A large number of people are often seen waiting in long queues for hours on end to buy alcohol. They are not maintaining social distance, the Court had observed.

Bars and BEVCO outlets are now allowed to open on Saturdays as well.

They will also remain open on Independence Day (August 15, Sunday) and on Avittam day.

The State, while granting permission, maintained that only parcel services will be permitted.

Earlier, the Excise Commissionerate had also suggested BEVCO to increase the number of counters in retail outlets to curb the queues.

It had also suggested that shops be re-allocated, if necessary, to prevent long queues of customers on roads and outside shopping centres.

Onam is a time when BEVCO makes the most sales.

In 2019, tipplers in Kerala guzzled liquor worth a record Rs 487 crore sold entirely through state-run outlets.

According to figures posted by BEVCO, the sale of liquor through its outlets netted Rs 487 crore during the Onam week, an increase of Rs 30 crore compared to 2018.

In 2019-20 alone, Kerala posted record liquor sales of Rs 14,700 crore.

While the pandemic dented these figures in 2020-21, Kerala still posted sales of Rs 10,340 crore despite the lockdown months when bars and BEVCO outlets were shut.

In the last five years, the sale of liquor was to the tune of Rs 65,000 crore. This is almost equal to Kerala's annual revenue.

Despite around 200 per cent tax on liquor, Kerala tops the country in its consumption of alcohol.

Only the state government agency BEVCO is authorised for wholesale and retail sales of alcohol, including beer and wine.

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