KARACHI: Business associations have demanded that the Sindh government ease the lockdown after the 15th of Ramazan while enforcing the standard operating procedures (SOPs) because the coronavirus pandemic is not showing any signs of slowdown.
In a statement on Friday, Businessmen Group (BMG) Chairman Siraj Kassam Teli said coronavirus would stay in the country for the time being while businessmen could not afford to keep their businesses closed for an extended period of time. He requested the government to devise a strategy for entrepreneurs and workers so that they could safely return to normal lives in the presence of the virus.
Appreciating the measures adopted by the Sindh government to contain the virus since March 23, Teli said it was high time to give the much-awaited good news to the perturbed small traders and shopkeepers by announcing an ease in the ongoing lockdown from the 15th of Ramazan.
By doing this, business and industrial community, particularly small traders and shopkeepers, would be able to recover some of the losses by working in the last two weeks of Ramazan, he said, when a shopping frenzy takes over commercial markets ahead of Eidul Fitr.
Teli said despite suffering mammoth losses during the prolonged lockdown, the entire business and industrial community fully cooperated and supported all the decisions taken by the government.
"Now, we must be given some relief in the shape of easing of the lockdown under a pre-defined formula in which all the traders should be given permission to reopen their businesses with the condition of strictly adhering to the SOPs, which must be mutually drafted," he said.
Detailing about the SOPs, Teli said they must be devised in such a manner that they were easy to implement and ensured minimum risk.
These SOPs must contain physical distancing of two meters between people at all times coupled with the limit on operating hours as well as on staff and customer capacity while visitors in each shop should to be reduced to 40% of the shop's total capacity.
Avoiding handshake and wearing of masks must be made mandatory at all times for the visitors and staff while shopkeepers should ensure proper disinfection of their shops and sanitisation of incoming customers along with the facility to check temperature at the entrance, said Teli.
He added that such SOPs should not just be applicable in Ramazan but also after Eidul Fitr. "These measures must become part of the daily lives and routine of businesses as coronavirus is going to stay for some time," he stressed.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 2nd, 2020.
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