Kochi, March 25: In accordance with the 21-day countrywide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the coronavirus outbreak, Kerala has decided to suspend the sale of alcohol through retail outlets run by the state's Beverages Corporation (BEVCO) for 21 days. According to BEVCO MD G Sparjan Kumar, the decision on resumption of liquor sale will be taken after 21 days, The Indian Express reported. Coronavirus Outbreak Live News Updates.

Sparjan Kumar also clarified that the BEVOC had not received any instruction from the state government regarding the online sale of alcohol. On Monday, when Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced a statewide lockdown, he had ruled out shutting the 330 outlets of BEVCO. Pinarayi Vijayan had said that a "knee-jerk reaction" to cut the sale of liquor could have "social repercussions". Coronavirus Cases Surge to 562 in India, Over 40 Cured.

However, on Tuesday, PM Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Essential services are only exempted. Therefore, the Kerala government has decided to suspend the sale of liquor from outlets run by BEVOC, which has a monopoly over the retail sale of alcohol in the state. In 2018-19, BEVCO had reported a 12 percent rise in sales, generating Rs 14,504 crores against Rs 12,937.09 crores in the previous year.

After coming to power, the Pinarayi Vijayan government has drastically changed the liquor policy of the previous Congress-led UDF government which was thrust upon prohibition. The CPM-led government reopened hundreds of bars that had been shut by the previous regime and allowed the functioning of bars at two-star and three-star hotels.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Mar 25, 2020 02:46 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).