The union government has relaxed the lockdown, which has been in force for more than a month to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection, opening separate independently run retail shops in the streets of infection-free areas. Shops like those dealing in clothes, mobile phones, hardware and stationery should, therefore, have opened today, but while some cities experimented with it cautiously, others remained too wary for the venture.
Shops in Delhi, Assam and Himachal Pradesh remained closed throughout the day despite the Ministry of Home Affairs order’s application retrospectively since last night. Many states have been declared that they will continue to observe full lockdown.
Shops that can and cannot open
According to the union government’s order, big markets and malls were supposed to remain closed till 3 May anyway, and they are abiding by the order.
There is now permission for all shops to open in rural areas. The prohibition of goods, liquor, cigarettes, gutkha etc. continue.
The sale of non-essential goods remains banned even on e-commerce. Restaurants, salons and barbershops will not open as they fall under the category of services rather than shops.
The MHA has clarified that no shops will open in COVID-19 hotspots and areas under control.
Government of Delhi wary
The Delhi government will not implement the central government’s decision to open shops with some conditions. Health Minister Satyendar Jain said on Saturday that no decision had been taken on the relaxation offered by the MHA yet. A final decision will be made only after due deliberations by this evening, Jain said.
Delhi ranks third in the country in terms of coronavirus infection. The capital city has 2,514 infected and 53 people have died of COVID.
In view of the virus in the capital, the authority has set up 92 control zones, which are sealed. Sources said that in view of the situation of coronavirus infection in Delhi, it is not possible to relax the ban on people’s movement.
Yesterday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal lifted the containment of an apartment.
Himachal not sure shops should reopen
Himachal Pradesh officials said on Saturday that the state government had not made a decision to reopen shops that provide non-essential goods and services across the state, as per the latest order of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) amid the lockdown. Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister’s Office has decided to relax the virtual curfew from 5.30 AM to 7 AM from Sunday to facilitate morning walk to senior citizens and the general public.
The state government has decided to waive the lockdown for 4 h from Monday instead of the current three hours. This will ensure not only social distancing but also fewer people at shops.
Assam government will tell shops whether they can open on Monday
The Assam government will make a decision on Monday after reviewing the situation in the state on the latest notification of the Union MHA about neighbourhood shops, said an official. State Chief Secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna said on Saturday that there had been no relaxation in the lockdown rules so far and the government had not made any decision on the opening of shops, beauty parlours etc as yet. Krishna said, “The state government will consider it on Monday after looking at the situation for two days.”
Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) GP Singh urged the people to wait for the instructions of the state government. There have been 35 cases of COVID-19 in Assam; 19 of them have recovered while one has died.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is concerned that the lack of activity will rust sportspersons.
Shops in Rajasthan were closed all day
The shopkeepers in Rajasthan remained in a tizzy on Saturday over the central government’s order to open shops during the lockdown. Shops opened in some areas and later closed.
The shopkeepers kept seeking clarifications on the order from the officials of respective government departments throughout the day. Shops opened in many of the cities and towns of the state but were closed by policemen or shop association officials soon.
There was a lot of confusion among the shopkeepers regarding the MHA order. They kept calling the officials concerned and trade unions to know what exactly the restrictions were.
A shopkeeper from Hanumangarh said that he and several of his fellow shopkeepers were ready to open the shops since morning, after reading the news of permission to open shops, but the rules were not clear.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot made an appeal to the people of his state who are stranded elsewhere to stay put wherever they were.
No relief till 3 May in Madhya Pradesh
Bhopal Collector Tarun Pithode today said there would be no relaxation in the lockdown till 3 May. The administration will arrive at a decision after reviewing the situation in the capital of Madhya Pradesh that day, he said.
According to the statement issued by Pithode, milk, vegetable and grocery shops will continue to operate — going by the arrangements that are currently in place. No other additional relaxations will apply.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan congratulated women’s self-help groups in the state for developing PPE kits and masks under the Jeevan Shakti Yojana.
Shops not to open in Saharanpur, UP
The administration is not ready to relax the lockdown to let shops and localised markets open in cities and towns in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh. District Magistrate Akhilesh Singh said on Saturday that the local administration would assess the instructions received in this regard according to the situation in Saharanpur and “only after that, we will reach a decision”.
The DM bluntly stated that Saharanpur had 160 cases of COVID to date and the administration was not confident of taking the risk of opening shops and markets as there were 80 cases in Deoband, the second-largest city in the district.
No relaxation in lockdown in Kanpur
The Kanpur district administration in Uttar Pradesh has made it clear that no opening of shops or other activities is allowed in the city and the rules of lockdown will be followed in letter and spirit. District Magistrate Dr Brahmadev Ram Tiwari said on Saturday it was not possible to open shops here due to a large number of cases of COVID in Kanpur city, although door-to-door delivery of essential items would continue during the lockdown till 3 May.
Those who violate the order of the district administration will be prosecuted, the DM said.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath issued instructions that are to be followed for daliy-wage labourers who have returned to the state.
Shops in 5 cities of Tamil Nadu will open till 3 pm
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami said that in view of the order of total lockdown in five cities, the shops selling essential items would remain open till 3 PM on Saturday. During the lockdown, essential shops were allowed to function between 6 AM and 1 PM.
Palaniswamy on Friday ordered a complete lockdown in Chennai, Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Salem and Madurai to stop the spread of coronavirus in densely populated cities.
DMK president MK Stalin had requested the state government to extend the shopping hours on Saturday so that people could buy essential items.
Palaniswamy said that the lockdown in Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai from 26 to 29 April would be strictly enforced between 6 AM and 9 AM. “The lockdown will continue between 6 AM and 9 AM in Tiruppur and Salem between 26 and 28 April,” he said.
The chief minister said the affected areas in the state would be cleaned twice a day. He said that only software companies were allowed to work from home and other private companies should not work in these five districts.
The office of the Tamil Nadu chief minister tweeted about temporary appointment orders for doctors, nurses and medical technicians who have retired on contract for two months. As of now, 1,323 nurses have been selected. The state has issued them employment orders.