Covid-19: Markets re-open, public transport resumes in Kashmir
Markets re-opened and public transport resumed in Srinagar and other Kashmir district headquarters on Monday, a day after some prominent religious places including shrines opened in the Valley as restrictions imposed to control the surging Covid-19 cases were revoked.
Shops, business establishments and markets opened after weeks of restrictions while buses and mini-buses also resumed their services nearly after five months.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration had re-imposed lockdown restrictions in Srinagar from July 13 after a brief period of unlock, and then in the rest of the valley from July 27 as Covid-19 cases had shown an increase.
After a State Executive Committee order on August 4, officials permitted reopening of 50 percent shops in all markets and resumption of public transport operations with a boarding of 50 percent passengers in minibuses and up to a maximum of four passengers in 10-seater maxi-cabs and two passengers in taxicabs and auto-rickshaws.
“Public transport was the worst affected in Kashmir, first when restrictions were imposed following August 5 decisions last year and then from March this year when lockdown was imposed. We are literally resuming our work after a year,” said Bilal Ahmad Dar, a mini-bus driver of Nowpora in Old City.
Unlike the normal times when buses on Kashmir roads used to be jam-packed, very few people used public transport on Monday and most of them were seen wearing masks.
In the business hub of Lal Chowk in the city centre, many markets opened keeping in view the official directions of resuming business with 50 percent shops.
“Markets with two parallel lines of shops opened only half while the rush of people was also not there. More than 90 percent of people were wearing masks,” said Sakib Ahmad, a resident of Lal Chowk.
Business people say that these are hard times for everybody.
“Markets opened today and the public transport was also there but there was no business. People have no money to spend except those working in the government. There is no tourism. The only way things can improve is when the government pushes money into the market in terms of development, infrastructure and other things,” said Yasin Khan, chairman of Kashmir Economic Alliance and president of Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Association.
However doctors are concerned about the surge in Covid-19 cases after the opening of markets.
“Request to shopkeepers: They shall not allow any customer without mask and shall not sell any commodity to a person without mask. Request to customers: They shall not buy/ purchase from a seller who’s not wearing mask, “ wrote Dr Saleem Khan, nodal officer Covid for government medical college Srinagar, on Twitter.
Jammu and Kashmir on Monday recorded six deaths and 422 fresh Covid-19 infections, taking the total number of positive cases in the Union Territory to 28,892. The total death toll in the UT has risen to 548—507 fatalities in Kashmir and 41 in Jammu division till Sunday evening.