Traders in the national capital are unhappy about the Delhi government's decision on Friday to allow just construction activities and factories to resume during the first phase of unlocking the city which begins from May 31.
"Definitely today's announcement has come as another blow to us. It has been fifteen months and no respite for traders. If factories are safe from virus why are not the stores in Connaught Place where it is easier to maintain social distancing?
"There has been no relief package for traders during the entire pandemic, we are running our business at our own capital and now not being supported in even that," said Bhargava who represents traders from Delhi's prime commercial hub -- Connaught Place.
His views were echoed by Sanjeev Mehra, the president of Khan Market Traders Association. He said a safe arrangement that includes following Covid protocols can be worked out.
Praveen Khandelwal, the secretary general of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), said though curbing the spread of COVID-19 infection is the priority of not only the government but also of the traders and the people of Delhi, yet when the case positivity rate is about 1.5 per cent, markets in Delhi should also have been allowed to open, maybe in a phased manner.
"The reason cited by Delhi government about resuming construction activities and factories as the need to provide a livelihood to migrant workers is half-baked. More than 15 lakh small and big traders of Delhi are providing employment to more than 35 lakh people who are largely migrants and as such for their livelihood the shops are also eligible to open," he said.
Brijesh Goyal, the chairman of the Chamber of Trade and Industry (CTI), a traders association in Delhi, had on Thursday said they conducted a survey across markets in Delhi and found out that 80 per cent of traders were in favour of reopening markets when lockdown is lifted.
"About 560 traders organizations from Delhi participated in this survey. Market associations, industry associations, hotel and restaurant associations, beauty and wellness associations all took part.
"With the reduction in corona infection cases, Haryana and Gujarat have started opening up markets and factories with certain conditions, Since Corona infection has also declined significantly in Delhi, now the traders of this city have also requested the government to open markets and factories," he said.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said Delhi has somehow gained control over the second wave of COVID-19 and the government will now start the process of lifting the lockdown gradually, starting with the resumption of construction activities and reopening of factories for one week from Monday.
An official, who was present in the meeting of Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), said there was also discussion on allowing markets and liquor shops with staggered timing from May 31, but there was no consensus on this as the daily rise in cases is still over 1,000 in the city.
The official said decisions on other relaxations will be taken depending on the COVID-19 situation in the national capital.
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