The Centre has allowed neighbourhood and stand-alone shops providing non-essential goods and services and products, including those in residential areas and market complexes outdoor municipal areas, to open from Saturday but with sure conditions.
In a late-night decision on Friday, the Union ministry of home matters said these shops can function with 50% strength of their staff strength and must strictly deal with social distancing measures including mandatorily wearing masks.
The newest order issued by Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla, which is an addendum to April 15 guidelines, said, “All shops registered under the Shops and Establishment Act of the respective State/UT, including shops in residential complexes and market complexes, except for shops in multi-brand and single-brand malls, outdoor the limits of municipal corporations and municipalities, with 50 per cent strength of workers with wearing of masks and social distancing being mandatory” will be allowed to operate.
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It added that “all shops, including neighbourhood shops and standalone shops, shops in residential complexes, inside the limits of municipal corporations and municipalities, registered under the Shops and Establishment Act of the respective State and UT” will be allowed to open right through the lockdown.
MHA later issued a clarification on the order on allowing the opening of shops.
“In rural areas, all shops, except for those in shopping malls are allowed to open. In urban areas, all standalone shops, neighbourhood shops and shops in residential complexes are allowed to open,” it said in a release on Saturday.
“Shops in markets/market complexes and shopping malls don’t seem to be allowed to open,” it said.
It also elucidated that sale by e-commerce companies will continue to be permitted for necessary goods only.
It further elucidated sale of liquor and other items continues to be prohibited as specified in the National Directives for Covid-19 management.
“As specified in the consolidated revised guidelines, these shops may not be permitted to open in areas, if rural or urban, which are declared as containment zones by respective States/UTs.”
What’s going to open, what won’t
This means standalone shops like a native salon or parlour, a dealer of electronics and electrical items and other shops in residential areas in urban centres can open.
All shops in small market complexes or unmarried dealers in rural or semi-rural areas can also sell their items to the public.
These kinds of shops must be registered under the Shops and Establishment Act of respective states and Union territories, because of this a roadside barber or mechanic, who is unlikely to have a registration, cannot open their shop.
“The newest decision will reopen major economic activity in rural, semi-rural and even urban areas and concerns raised by people on social media approximately non-availability of sure items will now be addressed,” a senior government official, who did not want to be named, said.
“On the other hand, everyone must observe total safety measures as we are still in a critical phase of Covid-19 spread,” the official said.
On the other hand, shops in market complexes, unmarried brand or multi-brand malls or those in Covid-19 hotspots or containment zones in addition to liquor shops, gyms, bars, sports complexes and theatres, may not be allowed to operate.
The order will benefit the rural areas the most, opening up the commercial activities further as all non-essential items will now be to be had to the public through these shops.
The order comes as a major relief for people as several non-essential items were unavailable since March 24 and also after a month since India was once put under a nationwide lockdown.
The concessions have not been extended to shops in hotspots or containment zones and states and Union territories are free to take any decision to shut down a specific market or shop whether they feel the relaxations could jeopardise their Covid-19 measures.
India’s tally of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) stands at 24,506—including 18,668 active cases, 5063 cured, discharged or migrated and 775 deaths, according to the health ministry’s dashboard on Saturday morning.