RAWALPINDI: Even though the Punjab government had announced to relax the lockdown for certain businesses, many traders in Rawalpindi are still puzzled about who is exempted and from when do the relaxations come into effect.
The provincial government had imposed a lockdown to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) which has so far infected at least 962 people and claimed 46 lives. However, with businesses and traders facing a financial crunch ahead of the busiest commercial season of the year - Eidul Fitr, the government decided to relax the lockdown.
Applicable to small businesses including electric, hardware, ceramics and other small shops such as hair salons, stationery shops, the decision was not supposed to have come into effect until Monday, May 11 (today).
Traders put off decision to open shops
As a result, several traders and markets in different areas of the city opened on Sunday. Some even started getting shoppers.
Among the markets which opened were those dealing in construction material on Saddar Road including those dealing in steel and PVC pipes, hardware and electrical items etc. Some stores selling clothes and garments also opened in different parts of the city ahead of Eid.
But the entire episode turned sour when police raided these stores and markets and forced traders to draw down their shutters once more.
As the traders opened their shops on Sunday, the police came in action and forcibly pulled down the shutters. Traders were of the view that the police were ignoring orders of the provincial government which had allowed businesses linked with the construction industry and other small businesses to reopen.
Trader Banaras Chaudhry complained that police officers had been harassing him all day, adding that he had told them that the government has allowed businesses to reopen from May 9 in a bid to move towards normalcy.
.In Sindh, traders to go online for business
He claimed that the markets for clothing and footwear, which reopened near Fawwara Chowk, have been given a free hand by the police.
Kiryana Merchant Association President Pervaiz Butt welcomed the government’s decision to allow businesses to reopen and urged traders to follow the prescribed precautionary SOPs.
Butt further called for the government to announce the reopening of shopping malls and other markets too ahead of the Eidul Fitr.
When asked, a senior police official who spoke on the condition of anonymity since he was not authorised to speak to the media, maintained that the government’s exemption for traders and businesses to reopen comes into effect from Monday and will last until Thursday and that the traders were supposed to keep their shops closed on the weekend.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2020.
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