After first COVID-19 tax holiday turns into fiasco, Colombian government pushes e-commerce for next two, restricts in-store sales

As part of President Ivan Duque’s package of measures to save the economy during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, three retail tax exemptions were announced where retail purchases would be exempt from Colombia’s exorbitant 19% VAT (value added tax). The first of those tax holidays was passed on Friday, June 19 where, despite the country’s progress in tackling the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-2, government policy encouraged an influx of people into retail stores in crowds. Black-Friday style completely contrary to those of the same government. health warnings, restrictions and proclamations.

With the next tax holidays scheduled for July 3 and 19, the government, stung by critics, is significantly moderating its tactics. While it has not rescinded the tax exemptions, Duque’s government has banned the in-person retailing of home appliances, computer equipment, and televisions in large retail stores to avoid shopping crowds.

“It is necessary that local authorities adopt extraordinary, strict and urgent measures complementary to those dictated in relation to the containment of the virus and move forward in recommending processes, procedures and guidelines to be followed by citizens, in order to ensure that those who converge in commercial establishments, considered as department stores, avoid crowds and spread the coronavirus, ”indicates a joint circular issued by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism with the Ministry of the Interior.

Home appliances and electronics could still be purchased according to the government, but through online e-commerce for delivery or for in-store pickup from consumers during the two weeks following the tax holiday.

Mayors and local health authorities were further empowered to impose restrictions and additional safety measures, and the government also encouraged local authorities to consider establishing crowd-limiting restrictions such as access times based. on cédula numbers (identity card) and gender.

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