With a steady rise of Covid-19 cases in Telangana and the the state government ruling out the possibility of another lockdown, traders and merchants in Hyderabad have decided to lead the way with self-imposed restrictions during work hours.
This comes at a time when new hotspots continue to emerge and the state recorded its highest single-day surge of 352 positive cases on Thursday taking the tally to 6027 cases and 195 deaths. Of the 352, Greater Hyderabad alone reported 302 cases.
“All of us have agreed to open shops only for 6-hours a day considering the rising number of positive cases in Hyderabad. We have to think of our own safety, apart from preventing the spread of the disease in the market. The disease is now seen among the general public and our markets have people coming from all over. Other associations have also decided to take measures as a precaution. Transport businesses are also shut by 2 pm,” said Laxminarayan Rathi, president of the Hyderabad wholesale Kirana Merchants Association.
There are nearly 500 wholesale shops as part of the association and they have decided to close shops by 3 PM everyday. “The business is anyway down. There is no rush for purchase as all sectors including hotels and restaurants are affected badly,” said Rathi. The Nizam-era Begum Bazaar, located close to COVID19 hotspots of Jiyaguda, Karwan, etc, has over a 1000 shops selling various goods. It is also the oldest grocery market in the State.
The general merchants too have opted for reduced working hours. Sriram Vyas,the president of Hyderabad Wholesale General Merchants Association said,”Over 800 members spread across Begum Bazar, Siddiamber Bazar, Feelkhana, and Osmangunj, have decided to do business only between 9 am and 5 pm. This is for our own safety. This applies to all shops dealing in cosmetics, home appliances, stationery, gift articles, crockery, school-college bags, etc in wholesale.”
Going one step further, Vyas’association has decided to not purchase any Chinese-made goods. “In addition to our decisions on work timings, we have also decided to encourage local goods and discourage Chinese-made goods. We condemn the attack on the Indian army by the Chinese troops in Ladakh and we have decided to not purchase any Chinese goods to stop any sale of these in the market.”
Stating that the arrival of consignments from China has been on a decline due to COVID19, Vyas said, “Profit or loss should not matter when it comes to nation. Now we should not use their goods and instead encourage our own products.”
The gold jewelers have also joined the bandwagon and decided to stay shut on weekends in addition to reduced working hours. The president of Telangana Bullion Gems and Jewellers Federation Jagadish Pershad Varma said all 400-odd members of the association in Secunderabad have been asked to shut shop by 5PM.
“The cases are rising and we cannot keep shops fully shut. Reduced work timings are good for now and we are working on social distancing and spreading awareness. Wherever the cases are rising, like Mahabubnagar, Jangaon, Nizamabad, Narayanpet, etc, we are in talks with the local traders across the State to tackle the COVID situation,” he said.
“With no restrictions on movements, there is very little we can do to stop the spread of the virus. We are insisting on using hand sanitizers and physical distancing too. We are also putting up banners and posters to inform customers to stay safe,” he added.
Welcoming the decision for restricted timings of operations by wholesale dealers, Dileep Pansari, the president of the Hyderabad and Secunderabad Retail Dealers Association said the state government should come up with a proposal restricting operational hours for all shops by categorising them under different slabs and zones, according to the nature of their businesses.
“In a couple of days, our association will decide on the timings. I personally feel retailers are ready to shut by 7 PM. It would be better if the government comes forward with a proposal for all shops,” he said.
All the restrictions on timings that prevailed during the lockdown period were lifted on June 7 with unlockdown kicking in. This has resulted in an increased number of positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Telangana.
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