India’s Capital City Imposed 70% ‘Corona Tax’ on Alcohol

In an unprecedented move, Delhi government under the guidance of the Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal has slapped a special tax of 70% on retail liquor with effect from Tuesday, May 5, 2020, after authorities eased a six-week lockdown. Terming it “Corona tax,” officials in India’s capital explained the move aimed to deter the overcrowded gathering of people, who wanted to pile up liquor during the lockdown that was extended until May 17 in the country.

Aim to Deter Large Gatherings

As India started entering in phase-three national lockdown on Monday, May 4, 2020, several state governments have decided to relax some of its restrictions to speed up their economic activities by allowing some businesses to resume operations. The capital city of India witnessed a swarm of people stormed in each and every liquor shop on the first day of relaxing lockdown; Delhi police had to disperse the crowd by using cane sticks since some latecomers were waiting even after the closure of the shops.

Anticipating large gatherings of people to these stores, the government had deployed police to control the crowds, who were seemingly violating preventive measures such as social distancing in lining up for buying alcohol. On late Monday, the Delhi state government announced the “special corona fee” in a view to discourage people from buying alcohol as well as avoid such large gatherings.

Arvind Kejriwal explained, “It was unfortunate that chaos was seen at some shops in Delhi.” He later warned, “If we come to know about violations of social distancing and other norms from any area, then we will have to seal the area and revoke the relaxations there.”

India Still at Risk to Coronavirus Spread

Within the 24 hours of the first-day relaxation of lockdown, India witnessed the highest number of new virus-infected cases reported in a day. According to the health ministry of India, the country reported 3,900 new infections on Tuesday for its highest single-day rise, taking the tally to 46,432 with the death toll stood at 1,568.

Health experts suggested that India remained at risk despite imposing a lockdown of its 1.3 billion people for over months. On Monday, the biggest cases were recorded in the western states of Maharashtra, home to India’s commercial capital of Mumbai, and Gujarat as well as Delhi, which are densely populated urban centers and also driving India’s economy, powered by armies of migrant workers.

Source reported that India’s average daily increase in cases has been 6.1 over the past week, behind Russia and Brazil but higher than Britain, the United States, and Italy. Concerning the present trend of the virus situation, Dr. Randeep Guleria, director of New Delhi’s premier All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, stated, “The curve has not shown a downward trend. That is cause for concern.”

Lav Agarwal, a joint secretary in the health ministry, declared that the virus cases are doubling every 12 days and added, “Lockdown and containment are yielding results, and the challenge is now to improve on the doubling rate.”

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