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After the Kerala High Court pulled up the Kerala government on Tuesday over overcrowding in front of liquor outlets, the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (Bevco) has mandated that those coming to purchase liquor should either be vaccinated partially or fully or should carry a negative RT-PCR test certificate. Many liquor outlets in the state on Wednesday, pasted a four point direction stating that consumers coming to purchase liquor should have taken either two doses of vaccine, or should have taken first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at least two weeks ago, or should have a negative RT-PCR test certificate taken within 72 or should have COVID-19 positive test result certificate taken a month ago. Bevco MD's office also confirmed to TNM about the restrictions imposed from Wednesday.

However, while many liquor stores put up this four point direction, staff of many other liquor outlets in the state told the media on Wednesday that they are yet to receive an official direction. Many liquor outlets in the state also did not witness the usual rush following the new direction. “We have not received any directions yet. Yesterday (Tuesday), we saw forwarded messages on WhatsApp, but officially, we have not received any direction,” a staff member of a liquor outlet in Thiruvananthapuram told Mathrubhumi News. Staff working in the liquor outlets also expressed concerns that not everyone coming to the Bevco outlets were bringing the necessary certificates.

Meanwhile, some consumers slammed the move. “This does not seem like a good move. Either the government should provide vaccines for all or we will have to get vaccinated taking money from our own pockets,” a consumer told Mathrubhumi News.

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday asked why the state government’s order directing only people who have taken COVID-19 vaccine fully or partially, or those who have negative RT-PCR certificate to enter establishments, is not applicable to liquor stores. The Kerala government’s recent lockdown guidelines making it mandatory for people to possess vaccination certificates or negative RT-PCR certificates to enter shops and other establishments, had come under severe criticism. Following this, the state government came out stating that this will not be applicable to purchase essential commodities. The court on Tuesday pulled up the state while considering the plea, highlighting the lack of basic facilities in 96 liquor outlets of Bevco in the state.

However, on Wednesday the Kerala High Court clarified that the court hasn’t directed people to be vaccinated to enter liquor stores. “For everyone interested in this matter, I want to make it clear that the court did not ask anyone to get vaccinated to enter liquor stores. It was only clarifying why these directions issued by the government do not apply to liquor stores, since these outlets are selling an article as well just like other shops,” Live Law quoted the HC bench as saying. The court also asked the state government that no preferential treatment should be given to liquor outlets and that the Beverages Corporation and the government should take measures to protect consumers from the coronavirus. In response, the state government’s counsel told the HC that the administration would take proactive steps. 

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