Textile markets in Surat and related businesses, along with diamond trading markets, safe vaults and cutting and polishing factories, decided to remain shut even as stricter guidelines were issued for the markets to reopen this week. So far, 1,500 cases have been reported from the diamond industry and 1,300 cases from the textile industry, Surat Municipal Commissioner Banchhanidhi Pani confirmed on Wednesday.
Following a meeting last week of textile industry members, Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) officials and Principal Secretary (Health and Family Welfare) Jayanti Ravi, the textile industry in the city was allowed to reopen with stricter guidelines that included the compulsory wearing of masks, staggered entry into the markets to maintain social distancing, workers downloading the Aarogya Setu application and compulsory installation of foot-operated washbasins.
Association members were concerned about the masks’ rule as their air conditioned shops have no ventilation, which would pose a health risk. SMC guidelines also mandated that these markets, of around a 100 shops each, would be shut for 14 days even if a couple of cases were reported. The footfall in textile market areas had reduced, as traders were seen taking orders from wholesalers of other states through WhatsApp, besides being involved in clearing old stocks.
On Monday, the Federation Of Surat Textile Traders Association (FOSTTA) announced that all textile trading shops in separate markets, running into thousands, will remain shut from Tuesday onwards, keeping in mind the steep rise in Covid-19 cases. Similarly, a few other markets, totaling to a dozen, have also joined the move and decided that they will keep their market closed for a week. Further decisions will be taken next week on July 20.
President of FOSTTA, Manoj Agrawal said, “Textile power looms and dyeing and printing mills are not fully operational, less than 25 percent are currently functioning. However, the majority of textile trading markets in Surat had remained opened since Unlock-1. Textile traders were not facing any shortage of supply of finished goods from dyeing and printing mills as they already had enough stock in their godowns. They could continue with their business for six months. Presently, the textile traders are clearing their stock of goods in their godowns. We didn’t tell anybody to keep their markets shut, it is their decision and they are voluntarily shutting their markets. The association has nothing to do with it, they are independent to make their own decision.”
Voluntary curtailing of business hours was also witnessed in Mahuva, where its Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC), the hub of onion procurement in the state, decided to remain shut for 10 days from Tuesday.
All shopkeepers of Mehsana town in North Gujarat, too, have unanimously decided to keep their shops open only till 2 pm between July 10 and 20.
President of Mehsana municipality, Navin Parmar said, “The shopkeepers wanted to keep the shops closed after 2 pm on their own. They had approached us and we agreed to support them. On July 8, we held a meeting of all shop owners’ associations at the town hall. It included various businesses like grocery, sweets, readymade garments, cutlery, watches, footwear, paan shops etc.. It was decided that shop owners will keep their shops open only till 2 pm. This will continue till July 20. The aim is to check the spread of coronavirus.”
President of readymade garment shops’ association in Mehsana, Manish Prajapati said, “Initially, there was not a single case in Mehsana. Now, we are getting around 10 cases every week. To keep that in check, we decided to keep shops shut after 2 pm daily.”
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