An eye-watering tax imposed on alcohol hasn’t stopped Indians from swarming Delhi’s liquor shops, which have reopened as the world’s largest coronavirus lockdown begins to ease.

From Tuesday, the Delhi government will charge a staggering 70% “special corona fee” on all alcohol. The measure was introduced to improve Delhi’s “financial condition,” Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia told local media. Across the country, huge queues formed as liquor stores opened their doors for the first time in 40 days. It’s not clear how long the new tax will remain.

Delhi: Large crowd of people seen at a government liquor shop in Jhandewala area; social distancing norms being flouted. Delhi Government has imposed a “Special Corona Fee” of 70% tax on Maximum Retail Price (MRP) of the liquor.

If Delhi officials hoped that the steep tax would keep people at home, they were gravely mistaken. The ANI news agency interviewed a man who had been waiting outside his local liquor store for nearly three hours. “We’ve no issue with 70% tax, it’s like a donation from us to the country,” he told the outlet. The man also expressed anger that police showed up only five minutes before the liquor store opened, even though a large crowd had already formed outside.

Justin : Hum Na manengee!!! This is despite the hike of 70 percent in the cost of all kinds of liquor. Second day of opened liquor store in Chandar Nagar in #Delhi.

The long lines seen on Monday forced some areas of India to halt alcohol sales, citing concerns over improper social distancing. Some queues were described as being more than a kilometer (0.6 miles) long. In some areas, police used sticks to keep thirsty customers away.

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