The coronavirus lockdown hasn’t exactly brought cheer to most of the world, but there’s one aspect in which it might just end up changing things for the better.
Zomato plans to branch out into delivering alcohol, as per a document seen by Reuters. “We believe that a technology-enabled home delivery based solution can promote responsible consumption of alcohol,” Mohit Gupta, Zomato’s CEO for food delivery, wrote in a business proposal to International Spirits and Wines Association of India (ISWAI). There’s currently no legal provision for the home delivery of alcohol in India, but ISWAI and Zomato are lobbying to change the existing rules. ISWAI’s executive chairman Amrit Kiran Singh said states should allow alcohol deliveries to help boost state revenues hit by the lockdown. “The challenge is to ensure revenue from alcohol continues to be available,” he told Reuters. “…It is imperative they (states) reduce the load on the retail counter … by encouraging home delivery.”
The issue has come under the spotlight amidst the ongoing coronavirus lockdown, which has seen large queues of people outside alcohol shops once the restrictions were lifted. The crowds raised fears of the spread of coronavirus among those buying alcohol, and some state governments even revoked the permission to open shops after witnessing the rush.
With this, delivery firms could well step in and help deliver alcohol directly to customers. Delivery firms have already been delivering everything from food to daily essentials, and allowing them to deliver alcohol could help prevent queues at stores. State governments too are keen that alcohol sales don’t stop because of the coronavirus: in two days after shops were opened, Karnataka had sold Rs. 25o crore worth of liqour. States rely heavily on liqour taxes to fill their coffers, and would want people to be able to buy alcohol in spite of the restrictions.
But there are concerns around allowing home-delivery of alcohol too — different states have permissible drinking ages, and Zomato would need to check for those before it makes deliveries. Also, Zomato would need some sort of an age proof of users who order alcohol, and would need a robust way to do it through the app. There are bottlenecks at the moment, but there appears to be no reason why alcohol can’t be home-delivered: the coronavirus lockdown has required Indians to get everything from food to groceries delivered at home. If Zomato has its way, alcohol could soon be next.