Ludhiana halts for Sunday lockdown, bizmen rue losses
Busiest markets of the city including Ghumar Mandi, Books Market, Gur Mandi, Chaura Bazar, Field Gunj, Karimpura, and Lakkar Bazar, wore a deserted look on Sunday with the state government and district administration imposing lockdown restrictions. Only medical stores remained open. The state and administration took this step to curb further spread of Covid after witnessing a surge in cases for the last 25 days.
The lockdown was largely successful as residents remained inside their houses and avoided stepping out without valid reasons. A meagre movement of traffic was witnessed in the city. All shops, stores, offices, malls, restaurants, and hotels remained shut.
Around 2,000 police personnel deployed at various locations in the city kept a strict vigil on the movement of people. In the internal parts of the city, some small shopkeepers had opened their shops that had to be shut down by the police. In areas with majority population of labourers including Sherpur, Giaspura, Focal Point, Dhandhari, Daba, and Jamalpur, people were seen gathered in small groups. They were sent back to their respective houses by the police.
J Elanchezhian, joint commissioner of police, headquarters, said that the lockdown remained a success. Very few violations were witnessed in the city and the residents’ cooperation was appreciated, he added.
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Some people were seen waiting for buses at the Amar Shaheed Sukhdev Thapar inter-state bus terminal. When a bus for Chandigarh arrived, passengers flouted the social distancing norms and gathered around the conductor to get tickets. They were in a hurry as only 26 passengers were allowed to board a bus at a time. Except for the buses running on the Chandigarh route, all others witnessed low occupancy.
Shopkeepers rue losses
The shopkeepers rued that they were already reeling under losses due to low footfall and now the Sunday lockdown had made things worse as people are usually free on the weekends and go to the markets then. Markets such as Chaura Bazar, Ghumar Mandi, and Model Town usually witness more footfall on Sunday than on any other day of the week.
They added that the limit set by the government on the number of people permitted to attend weddings had also affected businesses and very few people were turning up at their shops to purchase clothes and jewellery as a result.
Sanjeev Chaudhary, president of Arora Market Chaura Bazaar Association, said, “The lockdown will affect businesses as people from different parts of the state visit our market on Sundays. I deal in ready made garments and due to the government allowing only 20 persons to attend weddings, people have stopped shopping in bulk. This has resulted in a loss for the shopkeepers.”
Akalgarh Market, one of the wholesale garment markets of the city, has around 800 shops. Manpreet Singh Bunty, president of Akalgarh Market Readymade Garment Association, said, “Over 90% of our business is done on Sunday. The lockdown had affected us badly. The authorities must come up with an alternative and strictly impose restrictions such as wearing masks and maintaining social distance.”
There are over 300 shops in the Model Town market that are registered with the Market Association, Model Town. Amarjit Singh, President of Model Town Shopkeepers’ Association, said, “We are already witnessing a low footfall and businesses will collapse if the authorities impose a lockdown every Sunday. A majority of our customers turn up on weekends. The livelihood of the shopkeepers depends on the sales made on Sunday.”