Minimal relaxations from July 15

Shops can remain open till 8 p.m., but traders not impressed

Thiruvananthapuram From July 15, shops can remain open till 8 p.m. However, non-essential shops will remain closed in “critical spread” localities where the test positivity rate is higher than 15%.

The proposed relaxations are minimal. Retail, as per earlier norms, is allowed only on alternate weekdays. Weekend lockdowns will endure. The State has permitted textile, furniture, home appliances, jewellery, electronic and vehicle showrooms to open from July 15.

The government’s “perfunctory” relaxation of norms has not impressed the retail sector. The Kerala Vyapara Vyvasayi Ekopana Samathi (KVVES) has dismissed the “token” ease of restriction as a half measure. Its office-bearers said in Kozhikode that traders would dare the government and open for business as usual on all days from July 15. Street food vendors are likely to follow suit.

Traders’ protest

The KVVES will stage a sit-in in front of the Secretariat here on July 14 to highlight the plight of the retail sector. It will organise similar demonstrations in district headquarters the same day.

A KVVES office-bearer said government orders on COVID-19 regulations often lacked clarity. For one, the administration was undecided on whether hairdressers and cosmeticians could open shop. Beauticians and professional make-up persons protested for the second day in the capital on July 13.

Govt. criticised

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheeshan said the government has failed in protecting lives and livelihood during the pandemic. The “unscientific” lockdown restrictions had cratered the economy. The administration ordered total lockdowns without any scientific basis. It issued hazy orders. Many have lost their livelihood.

Traders and ordinary folk are ensnared in debt traps. The pandemic has only helped loan sharks. The government has failed to stop banks from recovering loans or attaching the property of defaulters. Mr. Satheeshan has demanded that the government constitute a COVID-19 Disaster Mitigation Commission.

Meanwhile, the government is coming under pressure from various religious groups to allow more people into places of worship. The Samastha Kerala Jamiat-ul-Ulema and some prominent Hindu ashrams have raised the demand.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will review the pandemic situation on July 14.

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