Within minutes of the Telangana government announcing a 10-day lockdown from Wednesday in view of surge in Covid-19 cases, hundreds of people queued up at liquor shops in Hyderabad.
Huge crowds gathered at liquor outlets in several parts of the city and its outskirts, throwing to wind all the Covid precautions like wearing of masks and social distancing.
There were utter chaos and traffic jams at several places as the tipplers parked vehicles on the roads to stand in queues for the booze.
There was hardly any wine shop without mad rush of tipplers frantically looking to stock liquor for the lockdown period.
As soon as the word spread on various social media platforms that the state Cabinet decided to impose the lockdown from May 12 (Wednesday), people started thronging liquor shops in “panic buying”.
Though the brief statement from Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) stated that there would be relaxation for all activities from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. daily, tipplers were not sure if the relaxation would also cover liquor and hence began to swarm the shops before they run out of stocks.
Shopkeepers had tough time in controlling the crowds. Their appeals for maintaining queue with social distancing fell on deaf ears as the customers jostled with each other to grab their bottle.
A trader said the madness by the tipplers could be because of their experience during the lockdown last year.
Reports of long queues at liquor shops were also pouring in from other parts of Telangana.
There are more than 2,000 liquor outlets in Hyderabad and 32 districts in the state.
Similar scenes were witnessed in the first week of May last year when liquor shops had reopened after a gap of 43 days.
The government’s decision to hike the liquor prices by 16 per cent had also failed to dampen the spirits of the people.