New Delhi: In a late night decision on Monday, the Kerala government decided to take stock of suicides due to alcohol ban during the lockdown period and issue passes for drinkers who show ‘withdrawal symptoms’. With a doctor’s prescription, alcohol consumers will now be able to purchase liquor from the Excise department. Also Read - Coronavirus: Should Delhi Hospitals be Reserved For Residents Only? 40% For, 60% Against CM Arvind Kejriwal's Idea
“Following the lockdown and the closure of liquor outlets in the state, there were many instances of social issues including the frustration and suicide tendencies shown by those who used to consume liquor regularly and the state government has decided to initiate steps to resolve the matter,” the Kerala government order read. Also Read - Mohammed Shami Confident of Getting Reverse Swing Despite Saliva Ban in Cricket Due to COVID-19
The decision was taken despite stark objection from the doctors’ association. Following Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s announcement on the weekend, the Kerala Government Medical Officers Association had said that it is unethical and against medical practice to do this. Also Read - Coronavirus: With 2,287 New Cases Maharashtra at 72,300; Gujarat Reaches 17,632 With 415 Fresh Cases
However, CM Vijayan was of the view that a “controlled” and “prescribed” consumption of liquor could aid those with mental or physical issues during the quarantine period. Besides, the Kerala government also asked the Excise Department to provide free treatment and admit people with withdrawal symptoms to the de-addiction centres.
“If such a person gets a prescription from the doctors saying he has withdrawal symptoms, he could be provided with liquor in a controlled manner,” the order stated.
While the COVID-19 pandemic is on the rise and has caused several deaths in the state, at least nine other deaths were due to the non-availability of liquor in the state.