Even As Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi late Tuesday withdrew an order permitting five “non-essential” shops on a street or lane to reopen, most shops in the city had continued to stay shut, still confused about how the state government’s initial order would be implemented, fearing being penalised by the police and over transport and infection concerns.
With the relaxations rolled back, only shops selling essential goods and medicines will now be allowed to remain open in the city from Wednesday.
Citing “difficulties” in its implementation, Additional Municipal Commissioner (City) A L Jarhad had earlier indicated the BMC may reconsider the order on allowing five “non-essential” shops to reopen.
“There is already a lot of crowd on the streets for buying essential items, so we have to see how much can be allowed. Also, it’s difficult to allow only five shops to open and ask the rest to stay shut. It will cause tension among shopowners,” Jarhad had told The Indian Express hours before Pardeshi withdrew the order.
Besides confusion over the ‘five-shop’ rule, owners of shops that employ several staffers said commuting was not possible for employees now. “There are two issues. First, the non-availability of public transport. Second, in the present situation, several shopkeepers are reluctant to reopen fearing the spread of the infection,” said Viren Shah of Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association.
The Indian Express visited several areas across Mumbai and spoke to several shopowners, who expressed concern over reopening. Most shops in high-risk containment zones such as Worli, Prabhadevi and Andheri West were shut. But in areas outside containment zones, some shops reopened.
On Kandivali station road, Padmavati mobile shop owner Krunal Ranka opened his shop only for a few hours. “If people are seen crowding the area, the police may hold us responsible. We are not keen on opening for now. We don’t expect business to recover for at least a year. Luckily, we own the place. So rent is not an issue,” he said.
Sheetal Stationery in Mahim West, close to St Michael’s Church, also reopened, drawing over 100 customers Tuesday. The majority of them were migrants who came for photocopies and lamination. “Most came to get their paperwork ready. It’s been a busy day,” said shopkeeper Madhav Patel.
On Jogeshwari West station road, more than five shops reopened. At an electricals shop, a staffer said the police said they could reopen as it was a green zone. “Customers came to buy fans,” he said. Next to his shop, a shoe showroom was also open, as also a photo studio and an ittar shop. But, there were hardly any customers.