Relaxing the curbs imposed in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, the Gujarat government has allowed all standalone shops, including those selling non-essential items, to open with 50 per cent staff from Sunday.
However, shops in containment zones and in shopping complexes and malls are not allowed to reopen, said Ashwani Kumar, Secretary to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Saturday.
“Those shops registered under the Shops and Establishment Act will be able to open. There are a three conditions. Firstly, the shop should be outside the containment area. Secondly, social distancing and use of masks will be mandatory for the shop owners and the employees working inside the shop. Thirdly, they have to operate with 50 per cent of their existing staff to ensure that there is no crowding inside the shop,” Kumar said while addressing mediapersons in Gandhinagar.
The order will also apply to even the urban areas of the state including those in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot. The shops can remain open throughout the day, the official said.
The government said that pan shops selling tobacco and cigarettes will also be not allowed to open. “It is very clear that at this moment, no pan shops (selling tobacco and cigarettes) will be allowed to open,” Kumar said when asked if “pan parlours” will be allowed to function.
Similarly, tea-stalls or kiosks, restaurants, hotels and salons will not be allowed to open, the government later said in a statement issued here in the evening.
The shops that fall in cluster containment zones of the state like those declared in Ahmedabad city will not be allowed to function.
The government has already declared 127 cluster containment zones in 20 districts of which 22 zones are in Ahmedabad district and 16 each are in Surat and Narmada districts. Apart from them, there are containment zones in Vadodara (10), Bharuch (12), Gandhinagar (5), Panchamahal (5) among others.
Under Shops and Establishments Act, there are 10 lakh shops registered in Gujarat where more than 12 lakh workers are employed, according to the state government. “The shops that fall under this Act like those selling stationeries, spectacles, provision stores or other small businesses have been permitted to open,” the official said.
“The shop owners need not apply for passes. They just need to keep their licences handy,” the official added.
The government clarified that the lockdown was still in place in the state and only one person will be allowed to ride a two wheeler and two persons in a four wheeler.
“However, people should not step out of their homes unnecessarily,” the official said.
“Whatever steps the police and the administration needs to take against individuals roaming without any purpose, will be taken. Lockdown is not a jail. It is for our own safety,” he said that the lockdown has been “successful” in Gujarat.
The IT/ITES services outside the containment zones will also be allowed to operate from Sunday with 50 per cent staff. This applies to even those firms in urban areas.
Private safe vaults in Surat to open for 2 days
Private safe vaults in Surat will remain operational on Sunday and Monday for diamond merchants and others who have stored valuables in its lockers to take them out amid the lockdown imposed in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
The Surat Diamond Association Babubhai Katheriya had made a representation to District Collector Dr. Dhaval Patel requesting him to allow the locker holders to take out their valuable items.
“We have got permission, and the lockers will remain open for two days starting from Sunday onwards between 1.00 pm to 4.00 pm. But the locker holders should also maintain social distancing and use masks,” Katheriya said.
There are 40 private safe vaults operational near the diamond trading markets in different areas like Mahidharpura, Varachha, Katargam, Ved road, and Punagam. These lockers are used by the diamond traders, brokers, and manufacturers in Surat.
Safe vault locker company owner Kanji Bhalara said, “Out of the 40 lockers, around 70 per cent are used by the diamond merchants and rest by the local residents.”
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