Elated Malayalis have been flooding Google and Sundar Pichai with thanks on social media after the Google Play store approved BevQ, an app the state-run Beverages Corporation (BEVCO) will use to distribute alcohol in Kerala.
BevQ’s launch had been delayed last week after Google asked BEVCO to answer certain security concerns regarding the app. According to Manorama, the app had been sent for listing on May 18 and immediate approval had been expected.
While many states have already allowed alcohol shops to open, Kerala has said that for now, people will first have to place orders and get e-tickets on BevQ before they can go to the assigned shop to pick up the bottles.
The delay sent many into a spiral on Pichai’s Facebook page, with Malayali users asking, pleading, sending memes and demanding he approve the app immediately.
People even took to calling Pichai ‘anna’ and wrote to him in Tamil, his mother tongue.
On Tuesday morning, the Kerala government confirmed that the app had been approved and would be available on the app store by Wednesday or Thursday. Alcohol sales are expected to begin on Thursday.
It is unlikely that Pichai had anything to do with the approval but the tide had turned on the unverified Facebook page, which is now filled with messages and memes of gratitude for ‘Sundar ettan’.
Malayalis were also celebrating on Google’s official page, filling the comments section of its latest post with celebratory messages.
BevQ was developed by the Kochi-based startup Faircode, which had been chosen from among 26 others by a committee chaired by Kerala’s IT secretary.
The state expects a large number of people to buy alcohol when sales begin for the first time since Kerala shut all its liquor outlets, including bars, hotels and toddy shops, when the national lockdown began in March.
The app will be used to maintain social distancing, and avoid long lines and crowds outside BEVCO and Consumerfed outlets, bars, and beer and wine parlours where alcohol will be sold over the counter.
Customers will be able to use the app to place orders. The app will produce an e-ticket which allots the user a date, time and location to purchase alcohol. An SMS code or QR code sent to the user will be scanned by the shop before their order is taken. One person can buy a maximum of three litres of alcohol once in four days.
People will have to stand 6 feet apart in the queue outside the shop, with only five people permitted to queue at a time. Customers will be checked for COVID-19 symptoms and their temperature will be taken with a thermal scanner.
People in containment zones will not be allowed to place orders through the app.
Kerala’s previous solution to assuage people with alcohol withdrawal symptons during lockdown had been met with widespread criticism.