India increases the price of alcohol to control social distancing

People line up to buy alcohol outside a liquor shop in New Delhi

Officials in India’s capital have imposed a special tax of 70% on retail alcohol purchases to deter large gatherings at stores as authorities ease a six-week lockdown imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Taxes on alcohol are a key contributor to the revenue of many of India’s 36 states and federal territories, most of which are running short of funds because of the lengthy disruption in economic activity caused by the virus.

Police baton-charged hundreds of people who had flocked to liquor shops when they opened on Monday for the first time in a relaxation of the world’s biggest lockdown, which is set to run until 17 May.

The Delhi state government announced the “special corona fee” in a public notice late on Monday.

Arvind Kejriwal, the state’s chief minister, said:

It was unfortunate that chaos was seen at some shops in Delhi.

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.