Updated: April 2, 2021 11:40:30 pm
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar’s decision to not implement a complete lockdown might have come as a relief for Pune Inc, but the suspension of PMPML bus services has been met with stiff opposition. Mall operators have also opposed the government’s decision to close malls for seven days.
Pawar, while chairing a review meeting on Friday, ordered a strict movement restriction and a 6 pm-6 am lockdown for the next seven days. Malls, restaurants and educational institutions have been ordered to remain shut for the next week. Public transport in the form of the PMPML buses has also been suspended for the week.
Suspension of bus services, said Sudhir Mehta, president of the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce Agriculture and Industries (MCCIA), will have no effect on the spread of the virus. “This denies livelihood to those who cannot afford other mode of transport. Many nurses cannot drive. Also, many senior citizens use buses to reach vaccination sites,” he said. Similarly, the suspension will impact industry workers with multiple shifts, especially those who are dependent on them
Surjit Singh Rajpurohit, chief operating officer at Amanora Mall, called the decision to shhut malls unfortunate. “Malls by far have the safest environment with crowd control mechanisms in place. Instead of trying to control the crowd and spread in places like unorganised markets, the government took the decision to suspend the operations of malls,” he said.
The industry, Rajpurohit said, was just returning to normalcy when this decision was taken. “By mid-January, we had started reporting almost pre-Covid levels of footfall when the February norms were put into effect. The decision to close restaurants early had led to drop in business and now the decision has been taken to shut us down too,” he said.
Shashank Pathak, ED and CEO, Westend Mall, said the decision was taken when malls had just started to report normal business. “Another round of extended lockdown and restrictions could have serious implications on the direct and indirect employment of thousands of individuals in the country and the survival of the shopping centre industry as a whole,” he said.
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