To Open or Not to Open: The Big Question that Guwahati Traders are Asking as They Await Govt Order
GUWAHATI: Confusion prevails thick and fast over the government guidelines on the opening of shops and business establishments as traders are seeking more clarity for easier implementation of the order.
Announcing the extension of nationwide lockdown, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had specified relaxation for districts which fall under Green Zone. In case of Guwahati which falls in the green zone, according to central government circular, all activities are permitted except those prohibited throughout the county, irrespective of the zonal distinction. Green zones are the districts with either zero confirmed cases till date or no confirmed case in the last 21 days.
"In green zones, all activities are permitted except the limited number of activities which are prohibited throughout the country," stated the MHA order.
The MHA circular said shops in urban areas, for non-essential goods, are not allowed to open in malls, markets and market complexes.
Many retailers have said that the government's order to allow reopening of shops is somewhat open-ended as terms like "market complexes" are not being easily understood.
The MHA order adds further that all standalone (single) shops, neighbourhood (colony) shops and shops in residential complexes are permitted to remain open in urban areas, without any distinction of "essential" and "non-essential." For instance, the order in regard to the opening up of liquor shops is open to many interpretations. The order has not clarified whether liquor shops in non-containment areas falling within "red zones" can sell alcohol as the government moved to permit standalone (single) shops in urban areas, neighbourhood (colony) shops and shops in residential complexes to remain open. It said that such shops can remain open “without any distinction of essential and non-essential."
"We are very confused about the situation. The silence of the authorities in this matter is making it difficult for us to chalk plans. Businesses have already been closed for over a month and it's affected us adversely," the owner of a shop in Fancy Bazaar told G Plus.
Another businessman said, "I had sent my staffers back to their hometown due to lockdown. Even if we're allowed to operate from tomorrow, I wish to know if they can come back to Guwahati."
The businessmen added that even if they are allowed to start operations, they are not sure whether they would risk their lives to go to the market or customers would come in these difficult times.
The Government of Assam had asked its citizens to not speculate anything based on the MHA circular stating that the state would release a set of guidelines after a meeting on May 3. When contacted, government officials denied to release any information and asked all to wait until the Assam government holds a meeting in this regard on May 3.
So here lies the confusion. Many standalone shops fall within the jurisdiction of market and whether they will be allowed to open is a matter of interpretation as per the government order.
In such a situation, the state government today is expected to come out with another set of guidelines which will hopefully clear out all confusion instead of adding to it.
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- opening of shops and business establishments in Guwahati
- Himanta Biswa Sarma