India's capital reopens liquor stores, imposes 70 percent ‘special corona fee’ tax to crack down on crowds

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Officials in India’s capital city are imposing a whopping 70 percent tax on alcohol purchases after residents failed to practice social distancing measures on the first day liquor stores were reopened amid the coronavirus lockdown.

The upcharge in New Delhi, which is being called the “special corona fee,” went into effect Tuesday. On Monday, after some lockdown restrictions were eased, thousands turned up at liquor stores without following social distancing guidelines, leading police to use batons to disperse some crowds while other stores were shut down.

Indians line up without maintaining physical distance to buy liquor on the outskirts of Mumbai on Monday. (AP)

Indians line up without maintaining physical distance to buy liquor on the outskirts of Mumbai on Monday. (AP)

It was the first time residents in India could purchase alcohol since March 24, according to the BBC.

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The ban on liquor sales formed an important component of India’s ongoing six-week countrywide lockdown and was meant to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus by limiting social gatherings. The ban, however, also deprived state governments in India of tax revenue.

A police officer with a baton handles crowd control outside a liquor store in Mumbai Monday. (AP)

A police officer with a baton handles crowd control outside a liquor store in Mumbai Monday. (AP)

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New Delhi wasn’t the only location in the country that drew plenty of people looking to buy drinks on Monday. Similar scenes were reported in cities like Mumbai and Prayagraj.

Indians line up to buy liquor outside a shop that reopened Monday after six weeks lockdown on the outskirts of New Delhi. (AP)

Indians line up to buy liquor outside a shop that reopened Monday after six weeks lockdown on the outskirts of New Delhi. (AP)

India has recorded nearly 45,000 cases and more than 1,500 deaths from the coronavirus. On Tuesday, the country reported almost 3,900 new infections for its highest single-day rise.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.