Thiruvananthapuram: Tipplers in Kerala have been making fervent searches on the Google PlayStore for Bev Q, the Beverages Corporation (BEVCO)'s app to buy liquor.
However, the app is yet to make an appearance on the PlayStore as it has not received the approval from Google. If the clearance is received late into the night on Thursday, testing will be done and the liquor sales is likely to be resumed in the state on Friday or Saturday.
The government had decided to resume alcohol sale in the state by making virtual booking through the app. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan too said that there would not be much delay in opening the liquor outlets.
The service of ethical hackers will be sought for testing the app. Once the approval is given, the app can be downloaded from the Google PlayStore.
When the booking is made, a token number will be received with details of the time and liquor outlet. Consumer can select the brand at the outlet and make the payment.
In the first phase, the liquor brand cannot be selected on the app.
The GPS-based app will be set such that a token can be taken only once in five days. If the consumer is unable to buy liquor on the said time, another booking can be made on the app only after five days.
Up to 3 litres of liquor can be bought now. Detailed guidelines will be issued soon. A video, explaining the app's functioning, will also be brought out.
Huge rush expected
Authorities estimate that around 10 lakh to 15 lakh consumers will take token via the app in a day. Around nine lakh people used to buy liquor from the BEVCO outlets daily. One lakh people depended on bars. However, huge rush is expected in the initial days.
The Faircode startup company, that developed the app, has told the BEVCO that about 35 lakh people can use the app at once.
Apart from the BEVCO and Consumer outlets, liquor will be sold also through bars and beer & wine parlours that have agreed for alcohol sale via virtual booking system.
About 545 bars and 220 beer and wine parlours in the state have given the consent letter to the BEVCO to sell liquor as takeaways. Bars, and beer and wine parlours, will have to give 50 paise to the Faircode startup company for each token issued.
Apart from the app, a system to make virtual booking through SMS using ordinary phones is also under consideration. Booking can be made by giving details of name, phone number, and landmark (such as place name or pin code). Personal details will not be sought.
Beverages outlets and depots reportedly have liquor stocked up. Normally, fresh load is brought to the outlets every week. All outlets were shut by 5pm on March 24 after the nationwide lockdown was imposed to counter the spread of COVID-19.
The stock was sealed on that day. Authorities said that only after the liquor outlets are opened again, will they have a better understanding on the stock availability.
As the alcohol rates have been revised, the price list on the warehouse software is being updated. Beverages outlets are ready to function when the app goes live. Most places have been disinfected. Barricades and markings to ensure social distancing have also been arranged for. However, only some bars have started making the arrangements to resume operations.