Delhi: Public transport, markets to close till end of monthUpdated: Mar 22, 2020 23:33 IST
Markets and most of public transport services in the national capital will close for the rest of the month, leaving traders and the general public with a sense of uncertainty over the impact on business, availability of items and salaries paid to staff.
The Delhi government joined several other states on Sunday to order a sweeping lockdown of the national capital, which will require all but a few essential services to shut down till March 31 in a drastic move to stop the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak from growing further in the country.
On Sunday, India reported 45 more infections and two new fatalities, raising fears that the country is following in the footsteps of other nations where the pandemic has now become difficult to contain.
“Business in Delhi will be completely closed due to the Delhi government’s call for lockdown. All the 1.5 million traders in Delhi are with the government to fight Covid-19,” said Brijesh Goyal, convener, chamber of trade and industry. Approximately 1,500 markets, including all major ones such as Connaught Place, South Extension, Sarojini Nagar and Lajpat Nagar, will be shut.
Shop selling items such as groceries, vegetables, milk and medicines will continue to be open.
The chamber of trade and industry also urged all businesses participating in the lockdown to pay salaries to its staff.
“We were the first to urge the governments to lock down the city for the safety of all the citizens. We support this announcement and we will ensure that all the traders abide by the directives,” said Praveen Khandelwal, general secretary of confederation of all India traders.
The spread of the outbreak has triggered panic buying in several parts of the country, including in Delhi-NCR region. Sangram Chaudhary, managing director of Mother Dairy, said that they are prepared with enough supply but said people should not rush to milk booths since crowding could raise the risk of an infection. “We are prepared and we will follow government directives. We also urge that people they do not crowd outside stalls and stay safe,” he said.
A senior spokesperson of Mother Dairy, however, said that there might be a shortage of non-essential items such as ice-creams, flavoured milk and yoghurt.
The All Delhi Chemist Association said essential medicines and medical supplies will not be affected by the government order. “All chemist shops in Delhi will remain open as per their business timing and supply will not be affected. People are requested not to panic,” said a statement released by the association after the announcement of the lockdown.
A significant volume of business is expected to switch to a home delivery model, especially for restaurants that have been ordered not to seat customers but are allowed to offer take-out or deliver.
“We will continue to operate with curtailed partner network (restaurants and delivery) for those in need of food delivery,” said a spokesperson for Zomato, a mobile-phone based food ordering service provider.
Albinder Dhindsa, co-founder and CEO, grocery delivery service Grofers, said that while the state government exempted essential commodities including e-commerce operations supplying it, this needs to be clearly communicated to all levels of administration.
“Even on Sunday supply of essential commodities was allowed but our delivery partners were stopped in other states. Even though things were clear in Delhi, if operations at warehouses are affected, then the supply chain will be affected,” Dhindsa said.