Liquor sales resume, churches and temples remain closed
by Biju Veticad

On behalf of all Christian denominations, Card George Alencherry wrote to Kerala’s chief minister a few days ago, asking that worship resume in churches. But Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan refused fearing the spread of COVID-19.

Thiruvananthapuram (AsiaNews) – In Kerala, liquor sales are set to resume, high school exams will be held, but churches and all other places of worship will remain closed.

The state government has authorised alcohol sales via the smartphone-based liquor purchase application BevQ.

Higher Secondary School exams are planned with great attention to social distancing and health regulations.

By contrast, churches, temples and mosques cannot reopen. In Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has refused to reopen places of worship because of the danger of spreading COVID-19.

In Karnataka, another state in southern India, Chief Minister Bookanakere S Yediyurappa anticipates that not only temples, but also mosques and churches will reopen to the public on 1 June.

“In our country the law is the same for everyone,” he said, “but the central government’s permission is required. We are waiting for it, and our efforts are on in this direction,” he added.

On behalf of all Christian denominations, Card George Alencherry wrote to Kerala’s Chief Minister Vijayan a few days ago, asking for permission to resume worship in churches. Mr Vijayan turned down the request fearing the spread of COVID-19.

This has sparked opposition among bishops, priests and many worshippers who object to the fact that bars and liquor stores can open to sell alcohol whilst churches and temples cannot open even after taking the proper steps to ensure social distancing and protect against community spread.

Alcohol consumption often becomes a social evil, as people become addicted, especially among daily labourers. Since this undermines peace in families, Kerala’s Catholic bishops have come out strongly against the government’s alcohol policy.

On the other hand, alcohol sales represent one of the biggest sources of revenue for Indian governments. At present, the sales tax on alcohol ranges from 202 per cent to 212 per cent.

Meanwhile, despite all the strict measures taken during the lockdown, Grades 10 and 12 students are set to pass their annual exams in Kerala, which seems to be the only state to have taken every measure to ensure that students can complete their academic year, usually in March.