In Colombia, Tax-Free Holidays Lead Critics To Decry COVID Friday – NPR

Shoppers browse at an electronic devices shop in Bogotá, Colombia, on June 19. Buyers gathered to Colombian mall to take advantage of a day without worth added tax, which triggered Black Friday-style shopping crazes.

Nathalia Angarita/ Bloomberg through Getty Images

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Nathalia Angarita/ Bloomberg through Getty Images

Shoppers search at an electronics shop in Bogotá, Colombia, on June 19. Shoppers flocked to Colombian shopping center to make the most of a day without worth added tax, which set off Black Friday-style shopping frenzies.

Nathalia Angarita/ Bloomberg by means of Getty Images

Colombia has signed up more than 2,500 deaths from COVID-19, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University. That is far fewer than surrounding Brazil, Peru and Ecuador. Still, the infection is surging in Latin America and health officials in Colombia say its no time at all to slack off.

They did simply that on Friday, June 19, the very first of the 3 tax holidays. At many shops, mobs of buyers ended up in a Black-Friday-like craze. Retail sales leapt five-fold, according to the Colombian government, prompting President Iván Duque to state the occasion a roaring success.

The shopping spree came simply as Colombia registered its highest everyday rate of new infections and deaths. That triggered López, the Bogotá mayor, to label the costs free-for-all “COVID Friday.” She recommended the tax holidays should be for online shopping only.

At a time when the country is facing a spike in COVID-19 cases, prompting Colombians to flock to shopping centers and shops “sends out an erroneous message,” said Bogotá Mayor Claudia López.

Far, there are no plans to cancel the two remaining tax holidays scheduled for July 3 and July 19.

“People need to comprehend that its unworthy risking their lives for a discount rate,” he informed reporters.

Sales tax in Colombia is a whopping 19%, so it was a big deal when the federal government designated three days this summertime as tax holidays. The idea is to persuade Colombians who had mostly been confined to their homes for the past 3 months to venture out– and open up their wallets.

The crowds were so large that social distancing went out the window and officials had to close down 86 shops across the country. Bogotá city official Luis Gomez entered into one congested electronics shop and personally purchased consumers to leave.

Guillermo García, a Bogotá legal representative who stayed home for the tax holiday, said it makes no sense for the federal government to first promote extreme care through tight lockdown procedures, just to then reverse and promote crowding in the name of increasing the economy.

The shopping spree came just as Colombia registered its highest everyday rate of new infections and deaths. She suggested the tax holidays ought to be for online shopping only.

“I think all the sacrifices we made over the previous 3 months will be lost,” he said.

After enforcing one of the tightest coronavirus lockdowns in Latin America, Colombia is now searching for ways to jump-start its economy. One experiment is a series of tax-free shopping days, however critics fear they might end up being super-spreader occasions.

They did simply that on Friday, June 19, the first of the 3 tax holidays. At many stores, mobs of consumers turned out in a Black-Friday-like craze. Still, the infection is rising in Latin America and health authorities in Colombia say its no time to slack off.