The retail sector, which has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, has questioned the government’s rationale behind imposing a weekend curfew. Representatives, instead, urged the government to allow retailers to stay open for business by observing appropriate COVID (CAB) behavior instead of a lockdown.
“Does the virus only spread at night and on weekends?” Why should we shut down our businesses when political gatherings with thousands of people are allowed? These were the two common refrains in the industry.
Many business bodies, including the Karnataka chapters of the Retailers Association of India (RAI) and the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), have called on the state government to reconsider the weekend curfew. and instead focus on the application of CAB. RAI urged the chief minister to consider new criteria for restrictions. RAI argued that the number of hospitalizations should be the yardstick for the type of restrictions imposed because of the strain it places on the health system. He pointed out reports that the Omicron strain did not cause serious illness and there were fewer hospitalizations compared to previous strains.
Business associations in the city have tried to lobby the government to end the weekend curfew. Sajjan Raj Mehta, senior business activist at Chickpet, the city’s wholesale hub, said most of the city’s markets do more than 60% of their business on weekends and their closure would have a negative impact on an already bleeding sector.
Mohammed Nazin, vice president of the Bangalore Trade Association, agreed. “Commercial Street already sports a deserted look. The restrictions imposed by the government act as a deterrent and people do not venture out even on weekdays, ”he said.
A mall owner who did not wish to be named said that by closing malls on weekends and opening them on weekdays, they would likely suffer more losses than shutting them down completely.
However, a senior city official said that arguments made by traders, mall owners and malls in the city that the bulk of their business takes place on weekends corroborated why the city has need a weekend curfew.
Ajay Nagarajan, CEO of the Windmills pub, said the industry has seen green shoots since November and the fear of Omicron and the restrictions that followed have ruined it. “The industry has been suffering for 20 months now and will not survive another episode of foreclosure. Many establishments will close, leading to losses of businesses and jobs, ”he said, adding that the NRAI had appealed to the government to allow them to operate with 50% occupancy even during the weekends, but was not very optimistic.
Chandrashekhar Hebbar, president of the Karnataka Regional Association of Hotels and Restaurants, said that 50% weekday occupancy and weekend take-out only would essentially render several establishments unviable. “This will lead to large-scale job losses and several establishments will close permanently,” he said. KPCC Chairman DK Shivakumar wrote to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, pleading for allowing the hospitality industry to operate normally on weekends.
“Allow MSME workers to use BMTC services”
The Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association on Thursday asked the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation to allow people working in micro and small industries to use city bus services.
In a press release issued Thursday, KASSIA said, “The BMTC statement mentions employees working in industries and establishments exempted in accordance with government guidelines.” He called on BMTC officials to extend the service to all employees working in MSEs on producing valid IDs, as most workers cannot afford to travel by taxi and auto-rickshaw.
KASSIA also asked BMTC to run more buses in industrial areas.