Hundreds of people lined up outside liquor shops in Delhi today, for the second consecutive day, after they re-opened following a nearly 40-day dry spell because of the coronavirus lockdown. Despite a 70 per cent increase in liquor prices in the capital, large crowds, of mostly men, were seen in snaking queues or jostling restlessly from before sunrise, without following social distancing guidelines.
In some places, the police used lathis to control the crowds. A man outside a liquor shop in east Delhi's Krishna Nagar, where the cops lathi-charged the people in the mile-long queues, said he had been waiting outside the shop since 4 am.
Outside a liquor shop in east Delhi's Vishwas Nagar, men were virually sticking to each other in the queue, with some willing to wait for upto four hours. "I haven't had a drink for 42 days. Let me drink today," one of the men told NDTV. Many of them were seen without facemasks or hanfkerchiefs to cover their faces.
"I have been here since 5:45 am. The shop was supposed to open at 9 am but the police arrived at 8:55 am. Who will be responsible if something untoward happens here? We've no issue with 70 per cent tax. It's like a donation from us to country," another man waiting outside a liquor shop in east Delhi's Laxmi Nagar told news agency ANI.
#WATCH A man outside a liquor shop in Laxmi Nagar, Delhi says,"I'm here since 6 am. Shop was supposed to open at 9 am but police arrived at 8:55 am...who will be responsible if something untoward happens here? We've no issue with 70% tax, it's like a donation from us to country". pic.twitter.com/xnhycDLL4y— ANI (@ANI) May 5, 2020
In a late-night order on Monday, the Delhi government said it will charge 70 per cent extra tax on liquor from today. Calling the new tax "special corona fee", the Arvind Kejriwal government said the police should allow the shops to remain open from 9 am to 6:30 pm. The 70% tax is on the maximum retail price or MRP per bottle.
In Chander Nagar of the capital this morning, a man showered flower petals on people standing in queue outside a liquor shop. "You are the economy of our country, government does not have any money," he told the people.
#WATCH Delhi: A man showers flower petals on people standing in queue outside liquor shops in Chander Nagar area of Delhi. The man says, "You are the economy of our country, government does not have any money". #CoronaLockdownpic.twitter.com/CISdu2V86V— ANI (@ANI) May 5, 2020
Soon after the shops opened on Monday morning, thousands turned up to stand in long queues and without following social distancing guidelines. This led the authorities to shut many of the shops in no time.
Officials had painstakingly drawn chalk circles for buyers of booze to stand in but the social distancing efforts were thwarted as people gathered from early morning. Delhi Police has suggested that the timing for sale of alcohol be extended to avoid crowding at the outlets.