Neighborhood shops open; malls, liquor stores closed, clarifies government
In a late-night order, the government of India allowed all neighboring shops in residential complexes to open but said malls, liquor stores will remain shut. The shops, however, will have to adhere to social distancing guidelines and make masks and gloves mandatory inside their premises. These relaxations, however, will not be applicable to COVID-19 containment zones or coronavirus hotspots. Read on for more details.
The order, passed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), comes as a big relief to shop owners, whose businesses have been battered due to lockdown. A 21-day lockdown was imposed from March 25 to keep a check on coronavirus, which was later extended till May 3. During this period, shops selling essential products like ration etc., were allowed to function.
Amending its April 15 order, the government allowed all neighborhood shops to function, with 50% strength. "All registered shops regd (registered) under Shops & Establishment Act of respective States/ UTs, including shops in residential complexes, neighborhood & standalone shops exempted from #lockdown restrictions," the order read. "Market complexes, except those within the limits of municipal corporations and municipalities, are allowed to open," it added.
While allowing shops to work in non-hotspot areas, the government underscored that shops in single and multi-brand malls will remain shuttered. To note, market complexes like Nehru Place, Lajpat Nagar, Connaught Place, etc., were not exempted. Huge shops, brands, cinema halls, and market places will remain shut, the government said. Pertinently, liquor stores will remain shut as these are registered under the Excise Act.
As specified in the consolidated revised guidelines, these shops will not be permitted to open in areas, whether rural or urban, which are declared as containment zones by respective States/ UTs: Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) https://t.co/SgfcRie8nP— ANI (@ANI) April 25, 2020
The Centre introduced two crucial clauses that will let states open their economy. But under the Disaster Management Act, states can reject these relaxations if they opine opening up shops will prove detrimental to the battle against COVID-19. This move is aimed at restarting the economy in the entire rural sector and get the wheels churning.
According to a fresh release of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Saturday, the number of coronavirus patients across the country stands at 24,506. This includes 18,668 active cases, 5,063 cured/discharged/migrated and 775 deaths. On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will speak to Chief Ministers to take stock of the situation and understand if the lockdown yielded positive results.