Traders’ body says all major markets in Delhi will stay open for now
All major markets in the city on Sunday said they have decided to stay open despite the rising cases of Covid-19 in the city, and scant business. The respective market associations said the decision came in light of the measures taken by the Centre and Delhi government to tackle the coronavirus crisis in the city.
With the number of Covid-19 cases rising in the city, speculation was rife that the government could impose restrictions again in some form, forcing Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain on Friday to allay such concerns. “No, the lockdown will not be extended any further in Delhi,” Jain had said.
All major retail markets — including Connaught Place, Khan Market, South Extension, Greater Kailash, Lajpat Nagar and Karol Bagh among others, have decided to remain open.
Brajesh Goyal, convener of the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) trade and industry wing said his outfit had scheduled a video meeting of representatives of over 170 trader associations on Sunday. “At least 157 associations said that though business is slow, they will keep markets open. All markets will scale up the precautionary measures to maintain distancing measures. There are only a few markets that may open on select days of the week,” said Goyal.
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), a national group representing several retailers, said that after a video conference with over 270 trade leaders, it was decided all markets would stay open for the time being.
In a survey CAIT conducted among traders and retailers, 88% said they preferred to shut their shops.
“After the aggressive steps announced jointly by the Centre and the Delhi government to deal with the situation at present, we decided to keep markets open. Trader associations will be free to take a decision on what suits them, depending on local factors,” said Praveen Khandelwal, general secretary, CAIT.
Sanjeev Mehra, president of Khan Market Traders Association said business has picked up slightly over the past week. “Closing is not a solution. We have to keep at it while taking all precautions. However, it may help if the government reviews curfew timings, as most customers drop in during evening because of the heat. We have to close early, as with limited public transport, the staff starts leaving,” said Mehra.
As part of the Union home ministry’s “Unlock 1.0” guidelines, a curfew is to be observed between 9pm and 5am. All shops are required to maintain social distancing, failing which they may face penalties.
While the main Sarojini Nagar market will remain open, traders’ association of the mini-market, which had on June 11 decided to stay shut, from June 15-30, said it will take a call on Wednesday.
“While there are nearly no customers and few staffers are available to take care of the goods, we will hold another consultation and decide whether to stay open or not,” said Ashok Randhawa, president, Sarojini Nagar Mini Market Traders Association.
Wholesale markets mostly located in densely populated Old Delhi areas such as Chandni Chowk, Chawri Bazar, Bhagirath Palace and Kashmere Gate have decided to stay open partially.
Jagdish Mittal, president of Delhi Electrical Insulators Dealers Association at Bhagirath Palace said it was difficult to maintain social distancing and had hence decided shops will open on alternate days.
The Nai Sarak Book Sellers Association on Sunday issued a circular that urged shop owners to come to their outlets only if required. “We have requested traders to avoid opening shops till June-end at the earliest,” said Surender Kumar Gupta, a member of the association.