Shopkeepers express shock over state’s new penalty order
Mumbai The Maharashtra government’s guidelines of imposing a fine of ₹10,000 on shopkeepers whose customers don’t wear masks or violate Covid rules have not gone down well with them. They said that this rule will lead to unnecessary fights and harassment.
However, authorities point out that this is necessary as shopkeepers need to ensure that people they cater to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour. They also said that they have also noticed that shopkeepers also hardly wear masks.
The order issued on Saturday states that any shop, establishment, mall, event or gathering ‘where a member of public has a right to come and get services’ must be manned by fully vaccinated persons. All visitors and customers to such places should also be fully vaccinated.
With regards to the violations, it imposes a fine of ₹500 for the erring individual while the establishments where the violations occur will be fined ₹10,000. It also warns that frequent violations will lead to the closure of the establishment till notification of Covid-19 as a disaster remains in force.
Mohan Gurnani, chairman, Chamber of Associations of Maharashtra Industries and Trade (CAMIT) which represents traders, said it is an absurd order. “The shopkeepers cannot force anyone to wear a mask. At the most, he can request the consumer. We don’t have statutory authority to enforce the rule. This will only lead to fights and harassment of the shopkeepers,” said Gurnani.
Sachin Shah, who owns a garment shop in Hindmata cloth market, which is a famous wholesale market in Central Mumbai, said that it was meant to harass the traders. “How can a person violating the law be charged ₹500 and the premises owner who is fully masked and adhering to all regulations be fined ₹10,000 for the violation done by someone who he barely knows?” questioned Shah.
Defending the order, state government officials said that the shopkeepers should cooperate with the government to tackle this Covid-19 virus. “The shopkeepers need to refuse to entertain those customers who violate the Covid-19 norms. This will send a strong message to such erring people,” said the official who refused to come on record.
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