The State government on Tuesday said that all shops and markets, which are allowed to stay open in the third phase of the lockdown, can remain open as per their normal business hours without restrictions.
“No restrictions like timing/day will be imposed by any authority except municipal commissioners of corporations in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), Pune Metropolitan Region, Nagpur, Aurangabad and Nashik, and collectors in rest of the areas,” said a directive issued by Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta.
The clarification was necessitated to ensure smooth availability of supplies. It said regulating markets and shops with restrictions such as specific days, timings, and entry points is proving counter-productive, and it is also attracting crowd due to uncertainty.
Chaos in Mumbai
In Mumbai, however, Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi decided to shut all nonessential shops, including liquor stores again after large queues were witnessed outside wine shops.
The Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA) reacted sharply to the flip-flop from the administration. “Shopkeepers across Mumbai are shocked and confused with the daily change of stand by the government. There was no issue with non-essential product stores at all in Mumbai. Only queues were noticed outside wine shops, then why shut down nonessential shops,” FRTWA president Viren Shah asked.
Mr. Shah said as of now, most of the nonessential products have become essential because there is a real need of garments, kitchenware, newborn products, toys and indoor games during the lockdown
Wine shop owners pointed out that most customers were anxious after 40-odd days of lockdown and the move could have been better planned by the government.
“People do not have patience,” explained Randip Singh Munjral, owner of Shah Wines near Crawford Market. “We say two bottles per person, but they ask extra for their friends or family and at times, we have to give in. Three of our staffers along with local boys and the police were constantly requesting people to maintain safe distance and they were all made to use sanitisers,” he said.
“There was a footfall of around 800 people on Tuesday, and there were 300 people waiting outside at the time of shutting the shop,” Mr. Munjral said, stressing that people failed to realise that maintaining a physical distance from others is the new normal and behaved like indisciplined children.
Dilip Giyanani, chairman of the Maharashtra Wine Shop Association, said the scarcity of stock was also an issue. “The workers bringing in the stock are not available in the present conditions. This is causing scarcity with each wine shop. The suppliers are finding it difficult to cater to the demand.”
Another wine shop owner from Mumbai said, “The staff were not able to reach in time for work due to lack of public transport. Whatever order was maintained was only because of the police, and private security personnel we hired.”
Only 5% attendance
The State on Tuesday issued guidelines allowing only 5% attendance in government offices in the MMR, and areas under the Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad and Malegaon Municipal Corporations.
The State clarified that the new notification was issued considering the number of COVID-19 positive patients in the above-mentioned areas.
In rest of the State, the government has ordered to ensure 100% attendance of officers from and above the rank of deputy secretary. In case of officers below that rank, attendance will be kept at 33% with the availability and requirement of work.
The government, however, said establishments that come under defence and security, health and family welfare, police, prison, civil defence forces, fire brigade, excise, Food Corporation of India, National Cadet Corps, Nehru Yuva Kendra, and corporation services will work in full strength.
The government officers have been directed to download the Aarogya Setu mobile application and take actions accordingly. Besides, wearing of masks has been made mandatory.
(With inputs from Gareema Bangad and Aditya Anand)