New Delhi: Liquor vends in Haryana will reopen from Wednesday after nearly 40 days, but it will be costlier as the state government has imposed a variable ‘Covid cess’. The state government has decided to open the retail liquor vends throughout the state barring in coronavirus ‘containment zones’, Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala said. Also Read - Aarogya Setu App Must For Guests at Weddings, Token at Salons: Haryana Govt Issues Fresh SOP For Lockdown 4.0 - Read Details

The shops will remain open from 7 am to 7 pm in both rural and urban areas, said Chautala, who also holds the Excise portfolio. However, no ‘ahataas’ or open drinking places adjacent to liquor vends will be allowed, he added. Also Read - Haryana News: Gurgaon Records 1st Coronavirus Death, 38-Year-Old With Cough For Five Days Passes Away

The Haryana government had shut down liquor vends in the state from March 27, two days after a countrywide lockdown came into force. Also Read - A Day Before Lockdown 3.0 Ends, Punjab Extends Restrictions Till May 31, Haryana Wants to Open Schools

The government has imposed a variable ‘Covid cess’ on liquor and the additional revenue generated will be used to support the areas or institutions adversely hit by the pandemic, he said.

The ‘COVID cess’ will be levied on all types of liquor: Rs. 5 per quart in case of country liquor, Rs. 20 per quart for Indian-made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), he said.

It will be Rs 5 in case of strong beer and Rs 2 in case of other beer and Rs. 50 per pack greater than 375 ml in case of Imported Foreign Liquor (IFL), he said.

There is no move to permit home delivery of liquor.

After discussion with vendors, manufacturers and wholesalers, the state government decided that the Excise year will be treated from May 1-May 19, 2021, instead of April 1-March 31, a move necessitated by the current Covid situation.

Relevant changes in the Excise Policy had been made accordingly.

In the wake reports of violation of social-distancing norms at liquor shops in Delhi and other places, Chautala said that no crowding at the sales counter will be allowed.

It will be ensured that social-distancing is maintained at the vends and there is proper barricading, he said, adding customers will have to stand six feet apart.

Only five customers at a time will be allowed to stand on the sales counter of the retail liquor vend.

Ten minutes before the closure of retail vend, no customer shall be allowed to stand in queue, except the five customers already at the counter, he said.

Wearing masks is mandatory for customers and salesmen while liquor vend owners will have to make available hand sanitizers at the counter at all times, he said.

To minimise physical contact, the administration encourages electronic modes, wherever possible, of payment, he said.

In case of any violation of the guidelines, the Excise department may reconsider its decision of opening the particular vend where violations are reported or observed, he said.

All the licensees shall operate their licenses at the same license fee at which these were allotted before the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.