Finally, in a move that could bring relief and cheer to many, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order last night allowing all stand-alone shops selling non-essential goods to operate from today onwards. Salons and parlors will also be allowed to open. However, shops located in the malls will not be able to open. Besides, alcohol shops will also remain shut. The MHA order is also not applicable for shops that are located in the “containment” zones.
While the MHA has given its order, it is now up to the individual state governments to give the final go-ahead for shops to open. “We will have to now wait for the state governments’ direction on this,” said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general, Confederation of All India Traders.
Amending its earlier order issued on April 15, the MHA said “all shops, including neighborhood shops and standalone shops, shops in residential complexes, within the limits of municipal corporations and municipalities, registered under the Shops and Establishment Act of the respective State and UT” will be allowed to reopen with immediate effect.
The local salons and parlors will also be allowed to operate. Big shops/brands/market places will remain shut. As for the liquor shops, the MHA has clarified that alcohol comes under a separate clause and not under the Shops and Establishment Act.
The shops have been asked to operate with 50 per cent of their staff strength. These establishments will also have to adhere to the regular norms of social distancing and other precautionary measures including mandatory use of masks.
According to CAIT, there are about seven crore retailers and traders in the country, employing about 40 crore people. Barring shops dealing in essential daily goods and medicines have remained shut since the nationwide lockdown was imposed since March 25.
CAIT has also stressed the need for making a comprehensive plan for sanitization of shops and commercial markets all across the country to remove possibilities of getting infected by the deadly coronavirus or any other virus..