New Covid-19 restrictions: Shopkeepers, traders a confused lot; demand more clarity over curfew timings

The new guidelines for containment state that all shops, marketplaces and malls should remain shut throughout the day, except those catering to essential services.

EVEN AS the state government announced new restrictions on Sunday, such as weekend lockdown and evening curfew on weekdays, many shopkeepers and small traders are confused about the days on which they have to keep their shops closed.

According to a prevalent order from the PMC, all shops are allowed to remain open (distancing norms have to observed) between 6 am and 6pm. The new guidelines for containment, however, state that all shops, marketplaces and malls should remain shut throughout the day, except those catering to essential services.

In the absence of any clear instructions from local authorities, traders are a confused lot. Fatehchand Ranka, president, Federation of Traders Association of Pune (FTAP), said he was receiving messages and inquiries since last evening. “It is distressing news and traders are hoping that they don’t have to shut shop again, it would be catastrophic. We need clarity over the order and what conditions are applied. The local district authorities have to come up with clear instructions as currently all traders are following the PMC order of 6 pm to 6 am closure. I have spoken to the municipal commissioner,” he said.

Parag Shah, committee member of Pune Camp Merchants Association, said the discrepancy in timings over curfew in Pune and other districts of the state has added to the confusion. “The Maharashtra government order last evening said curfew from 8 pm to 7 am, but the Pune local authorities have said the curfew here is from 6 pm to 6 am. Does it mean that in Pune district, the earlier order is in place? There is confusion among traders because of these contrasting orders. Also, we need to see if lockdown is really a cure, we need to change the mindset of people and strong and effective implementation is the key,” he said.

Local shopkeepers afraid of an impending shutdown of business have demanded that shops should be allowed to remain open, even with restrictions.

“Since Covid cases started spiking and the evening curfew set in, the number of walk-in customers has gone down to nearly none. There is fear among people and no one is spending money since what lies ahead is uncertain. We are just catering to old projects and orders. If they now announce a complete shutdown, how is it going to help curb Covid?” asked Huzefa Rangwala, who owns a plumbing and bathroom accessories showroom at Camp.

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