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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Pune: Confusion prevails among shopkeepers over new Covid-19 restrictions

Local shopkeepers, afraid of an impending shutdown in business, demand that shops be allowed to remain open, even if with restrictions.

Written by Alifiya Khan | Pune |
Updated: April 5, 2021 7:11:18 pm
Closed shops on TIlakroad, Laxmi road and Bajirao road during the night curfew in Pune.

Even as the Maharashtra state government announced new Covid-19 restrictions on Sunday — including a weekend lockdown and an evening curfew on weekdays — confusion reigns amongst shopkeepers and small traders over closure of shops in Pune.

The order from Pune Municipal Corporation states that all shops are allowed to remain open, albeit following social distancing norms, between 6 am to 6 pm in evenings. However, the new guidelines for containment asks all shops, markets and malls to remain shut throughout the day, barring non-essential services.

Covid-19 new restrictions |What’s open, what’s closed in Pune

In the absence of any clear instructions from local authorities, there is prevailing confusion amongst Pune traders on how to conduct business.

Fatehchand Ranka, president, The Federation of Traders Association of Pune (FTAP) said he has been getting messages and inquiries since last evening. “It is very distressing news and the traders are hoping that they don’t have to shut shop again, it would be catastrophic. We need clarity over the order and what conditions are applied. The local district authorities have to come up with clear instructions as currently all traders are following the PMC order of 6 pm to 6 am closure. I have spoken to the municipal commissioner in the morning, we think by evening some clarity will be received. Until then, we have our associations meeting today regarding vaccinations of staff and shop owners,” he said.

Parag Shah, committee member of Pune Camp Merchants Association, said that the discrepancy in timings over the curfew in Pune and other districts of Maharashtra has added to the confusion. “The Maharashtra government order last evening said curfew from 8pm to 7am but the Pune local authorities have said that here the curfew is from 6pm to 6am. Does it mean that in Pune district, the earlier order is in place? There is confusion amongst traders because of these contrasting orders. Also we need to see if lockdown is really a cure, we need to change the mindset of people and strong and effective implementation is the key,” he said.

Meanwhile local shopkeepers, afraid of an impending shutdown in business, demand that shops be allowed to remain open, even if with restrictions.

“Since the COVID cases started spiking and the evening curfew set in, the number of walk-in customers had gone down to nearly nothing. There is fear amongst people and no one is spending money since what lies ahead is uncertain. We are just catering to the old projects and orders. If now they announce a complete shutdown, how is it going to help in curbing COVID?” asked Huzefa Rangwala, who owns a plumbing and bathroom accessories showroom in Camp.

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