Friday was the first day when Mumbai’s shops and markets have opened as part of Maharashtra’s Mission Begin Again, a phase-wise easing of lockdown 5:0, which came into effect from June 1 and will be in place till June 30 to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.
Many shoppers were seen heading to markets on Friday morning because of the easing of lockdown restrictions, as they were keen to finish their pending chores.
Shops selling garments, hosiery items, bed sheets, curtains, kitchenware, confectionaries, etc., opened at 9am. Tailoring shops and department stores also opened. Vendors were back on the streets selling garments and footwear.
However, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) rules stipulate that shops will open on odd-even days after remaining shut for over two months due to the lockdown restrictions.
In the city’s containment zones, all shops are closed except some grocery stores that are allowed to remain open up to 1pm. No crowd could be seen in these areas, where, roads, too, have been barricaded to ensure restrictions in movement.
Vehicular traffic is back to normal, and many parts of the city reported traffic snarls, especially, south-central Mumbai, including Dadar, Parel, and Byculla.
Shoppers appeared relieved with the opening up of economic activities. “I’ve been wanting to buy plastic water bottles for the past three months. I’ve been deprived of drinking refrigerated water at home because of the lack of these bottles,” said a shopper at a kitchenware store in Dadar.
Another shopper, who was seen giving measurements to a tailoring-cum-garment store in Dadar, said: “I’m trying to finish all the pending chores one by one.”
Shopkeepers are relieved with the state government’s move to open up economic activities amid the easing of lockdown restrictions. “Business had come to a standstill for the past two months. I’m not expecting many customers right away. But, I hope sales will improve gradually,” said a shopkeeper, who sells hosiery items in Dadar.
On May 31, the state government had announced Mission Begin Again in three phases from June 3, 5, and 8.
BMC commissioner IS Chahal issued a circular on June 2, chalking out the graded unlocking plan. June 3, shops, and markets were allowed to reopen for the first time between 9 am and 5 pm. However, no shops are allowed to exchange or return goods. Shopping malls and shopping complexes are still closed till further orders.
The BMC authorities are keeping a strict watch on whether the shopkeepers are following the standard operating procedures while doing business.
“All the civic body wards have been asked to form teams and check on shops if they’re following social distancing norms and other safety measures such as wearing of face masks to contain the spread of Covid-19. Shops will be shut down immediately if they are found to be violating these rules,” said Sunita Joshi, chief facilitator, shops and establishments department, BMC.