New Delhi: The Centre on Friday allowed the opening of shops as part of the easing of lockdown restrictions announced on April 15 with neighbourhood shops and others being allowed within the city and all shops except those in malls allowed outside the municipal limits with 50 per cent strength of workers.
Later, in a clarification released by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), it said that shops have been allowed to open in multi-brand or single brand malls.
In rural areas, all shops, except those in shopping malls are allowed to open. In urban areas, all standalone/neighbourhood shops and shops in residential complexes are allowed to open.
E-commerce companies will continue to be permitted for essential goods only.
However, shops in markets/market complexes & shopping malls are not allowed to open. Besides, the sale of liquor and other items are also prohibited, the release read.
Moreover, no shops will be permitted to open in hotspots/containment zones, the clarification issued said.
The Home Ministry clarified that only standalone shops are being allowed to open as per the directive and that the order does not apply to COVID-19 containment zones or liquor stores. Then in a further clarification, the government said that salons, barber shops, and restaurants will continue to be closed as the relaxation was given to "shops selling items".
The Ministry has cleared the air after initial confusion due to Friday night's MHA order. The clarification says, "In urban areas, all standalone/neighbourhood shops & shops in residential complexes are allowed to open. Shops in markets/market complexes & shopping malls are not allowed to open."
Here are all shops that can open:
1. All shops in residential areas and markets in the neighbourhood will open those sell items.
2. All shops that are registered under the Shops and Establishment Act of the respective State or the Union Territory, including those shops in residential complexes and market complexes, outside the municipal corporations and municipalities, will be allowed to open.
3. In urban areas, non-essential goods and services will be allowed to operate provided they are in residential areas or are a standalone shop. This essentially means a sweet shop too can function.
4. However, those shops in registered markets but outside municipal corporations and municipalities can open only with 50 per cent staff.
5. Shops that fall under rural and semi-rural areas and markets that are registered can open. In cities, only standalone shops and residential shops can open.
Meanwhile, the ministry also clarified that sales by e-commerce companies will continue to be restricted to essential goods only.
Shops that can't be open
1. No shops have been allowed to open in multi-brand or single brand malls, it had said. So, one can forget about their plans for a mall visit.
2. No movie theaters are being allowed to open.
3. Liquor shops too will remain closed and the MHA has made it a point to stress on that.
3. Gyms and swimming pools too will be off-limit as they are areas where social distancing goes for a toss.
4. Markets with a cluster of shops like that of south Delhi's Khan Market too will remain shut.
5. Since they don't sell items but offer services, salons too will remain closed.
However, much of the final decision rests with respective state governments and UT administrations. But where they do allow these new reprieves, however conditionally, it will surely be a welcome change for a locked-down populace.
Meanwhile, the largest traders' body Confederation of All India Traders lauded the decision but issued a caution to the traders to follow orders by their state government in the matter and also sanitize shops and market places before resuming business.
CAIT's national general secretary Praveen Khandelwal said, "The central government has taken this decision only after fully assessing the present circumstances related to Corona and keeping in mind the difficulties of the public and economic scenario of the country."
"We appeal the traders across the country to not open their shops in their extreme enthusiasm and await the order of respective state government and as per the same, the shops can be opened. Since trade and shops and establishment is the state subject, only the States Governments are empowered to take the decision," Khandelwal added.
The traders' body with over 7 crore traders across the nation also wrote to the Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and Urban Development Minister Hardeep Puri mentioning that in the context of the opening of shops or markets, it is necessary that shops and markets are properly sanitized.
It demanded that the government should make a clear plan immediately and advise all the state governments to take necessary steps for sanitizing the markets and the shops.
(With Agency Inputs)