Shopkeepers in Mohali defy weekend lockdown guidelines, hold protest demanding exemption

The Punjab government had imposed a weekend lockdown in all cities and towns in the state, as part of a strict response to the worrying surge in Covid-19 cases
Many shopkeepers violated lockdown norms by opening shops in Phase 7 market in Mohali on Saturday(HT photo)
Many shopkeepers violated lockdown norms by opening shops in Phase 7 market in Mohali on Saturday(HT photo)
Updated on Aug 29, 2020 10:30 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Mohali | By, Mohali

Even though the government had ordered to close all shops on weekends, except those selling essential items, many shopkeepers in complete defiance of the city’s lockdown orders opened shops even after the police made a few unsuccessful attempts to shut them.

Shops in Phase 7, 3b2 and 5, Sohana were open and police could be seen asking the shop owners to close them down.

Loss of earnings has forced many shop owners to wind up businesses thus leading to laying off their staff. Shop owners held a protest in Phase 7, demanding exemption of weekend lockdown in Mohali on the lines of Chandigarh and Panchkula.

Shopkeepers protesting against the government in Phase 7 market (HT photo)
Shopkeepers protesting against the government in Phase 7 market (HT photo)

The Punjab government had imposed a weekend lockdown in all cities and towns in the state, as part of a strict response to the worrying surge in Covid-19 cases. All shops except those dealing in essential commodities were asked to remain closed while eateries were allowed to open only for home delivery.

The district authorities had shared the concern of the traders with the government but so far no exemption has been provided. The police department has been directed to ensure that the shops do not open on weekends.

“Weekend lockdown is unacceptable and Mohali should be exempted as it is an integral part of the tricity. There is a drastic dip in the earnings of traders. With Chandigarh and Panchkula open on weekends, it is further going to kill businesses in Mohali,” said Sarbjeet Singh, general secretary Mohali Beopar Mandal.

He added, “The government is forcing traders to come on streets to protest by taking decisions that are against the interest of the people.”

Businesses shutting down as survival becoming difficult

Three months of lockdown has led to a drastic decrease in the earnings of traders. “We had co-operated with the government but now it is a matter of survival. In Mohali, five showrooms each in Phase 5 and 7 have closed down owing to losses while seven more in Phase 7 are on the verge of closure,” said Sarbjeet.

“People are losing jobs. If there is no business how are we going to give salaries to our staff? Already shops have reduced the staff strength and only working with 50% of staff,” said Rajpal Chaudhury, who runs a shop in Phase 5 Mohali.

“Shopkeepers are struggling to meet monthly expenses. The government has failed to provide us any kind of relief. Though the decision was taken to combat the spread of the virus, this is also leading to loss of livelihood,” said Gurmeet Singh Walia, a shopkeeper in Phase 10, Mohali.

“The government has failed the business community and by imposing the weekend curfew they are depriving shopkeepers of livelihood,” said Vineet Verma president Mohali Bepoar Mandal,

“The market associations are asking for an exemption for Mohali but so far no relaxation has been announced. The weekend curfew would be imposed in Mohali as per the orders of the state government,” said Girish Dayalan, deputy commissioner, Mohali.

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