THOUGH THE Punjab government on Saturday said that no shops will be allowed to open till April 30 while the Cabinet will take a call on what happens after that, many shopkeepers are keen to open, but are fearful of infection amid the COVID-19 pandemic as well.
Leela Ram, 50, owns a sweet shop in Khiala Kalan village of Mansa. “My shop has been closed for more than a month now. Now there seems to be a ray of hope, but I don’t think people will start buying sweets all of a sudden. If we are allowed to open, I will make boondi, laddoos, besan barfi and my signature ‘samosa’. But only in small quantities. If the sale picks up, I will add more items.”
He further said, “People trust me, but now I will have to put extra effort towards maintaining hygiene.”
Naresh Bala a resident of Khera village, said, “I have set up a general store from my house. I sell cosmetics, clothes, slippers etc. I have stock of a month with me, let’s see if I am allowed to open shop.”
“Cosmetics come under luxury items now. People don’t even think of buying these products, but as summers are approaching, I am hoping for better sales.”
In villages, many repair shops for agricultural instruments, animal feed, highway dhabhas etc. have opened after the state of crop procurement season. Many fear that this could lead to an escalation of coronavirus cases as well. Mohinder Aggarwal, president of the Beopar Mandal of Ludhiana, said, “Shops in societies or rural areas will be opened. But they take their stock from wholesale market, which will remain closed. Wholesalers will be taking products from factories, which too are closed. Hence they may sell their pending stock, perhaps by that time, more areas can open up. I have my electrical equipment shop in Chaura Bazar, I think I am not in the category to open up. I am a supplier to small shops. Hence links need to be maintained.”
He added, “Since cases are still coming in, some restraint should be exercised in opening up areas. Lives are more important.”
So far, parlours, barbers and other small shops in mohallas are still in the waiting list. “We are ready to serve customers following all precautions like wearing masks, gloves and sanitising ourselves and customers before providing any service, but still we will be in high risk category,” said Parmjeet Kaur, who has a parlour in Vikas Nagar area of Ludhiana.
Bathinda takes tough stand
In zero case district Bathinda, DC B Srinivasan sent a message on Saturday afternoon itself that they have no plans to give any relief as of now. The order said, “Don’t get confused after looking at orders.”
Ludhiana DC Pardeep Aggarwal and Sangrur DC Ghanshaym Thori said, “We are waiting for instructions from state government and will act accordingly. Sangrur has only one active case left while in Ludhiana 9 active cases are still under treatment.”
Similar was the feedback from DCs of Ferozepur, Fazilka and even Mansa as they will take a call after state government’s instructions.
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