Many commercial establishments in the city have urged the state government to provide relaxation during the Covid-19 lockdown, so they can operate for a few hours on certain days of a week. They say some states have created such a window to help struggling shopkeepers stay afloat.
BENGALURU: Many commercial establishments in the city have urged the state government to provide relaxation during the Covid-19 lockdown, so they can operate for a few hours on certain days of a week. They say some states have created such a window to help struggling shopkeepers stay afloat.
Kerala, for instance, has allowed banks, bookstores, stationery shops, textile, jewellery and footwear businesses (only wedding shopping), workshops, mobile sellers and suppliers of automobile spare parts to stay open on specific days during the lockdown.
Traders in Bengaluru say the Karnataka government, which imposed curbs on April 27 and extended them till June 14, should adopt a similar model to help ease business disruption. “All the neighbouring states are running businesses in spite of a lockdown. We request you to allow us to operate our businesses for a limited time, from 9am to 2pm, for a few days by following strict SOPs,” Arun Jain, the joint secretary of the Bangalore Electronics Dealers’ Association, has said in a letter to the chief minister.
Sajjan Raj Mehta, a former president of the Karnataka Hosiery and Garment Association, has a similar view. “The government should provide relaxation for a few hours a day. States like Kerala and Telangana have allowed traders to function for some hours. We are in deep debt because of the lockdown, but there has been no relief from the Centre or the state government so far,” he said.
Giving the example of other big cities, he said: “In Mumbai, partial businesses are functioning and in Hyderabad, shops are open from 8am to 10am. The government should understand the plight of shop owners and support them instead of threatening them with dire consequences if they open.”
After last year’s Covid lockdown, many members of the association struggled to cope with losses and vacated their premises. “Many lost payments receivable from customers in huge amounts. We didn’t get any support from the government. We are again in trouble,” Jain said.
SP Road is home to one of the biggest electronics markets in South India with around 1,200 dealers, according to Jain. “There is anguish among traders because of the extended lockdown. An estimated turnover of about Rs 1,200 crore per month is lost in this market alone. Almost all types of industries are dependent on supplies from our market,” he said.
Several shop owners have been without income for more than 40 days. “We struggled a lot during last year’s 78-day lockdown, and we are facing a crisis again. We have huge overheads such as rent, staff salaries, taxes, utility bills and interest payments,” he added.