Traders relieved as Delhi government eases COVID restrictions

‘Close to 70% of the city’s business affected due to restrictions’

January 28, 2022 01:45 am | Updated 01:45 am IST - New Delhi

Traders and market association heads expressed a sigh of relief after the Delhi Disaster Management Authority announced the lifting of weekend curfew and the odd-even rule for shops in the Capital.

However, most of them said the authorities concerned should “consult with stakeholders” before imposing restrictions that can “result in economic distress”.

Cinema halls and restaurants have been permitted to reopen at 50% capacity, while the cap for guests at weddings now stands at 200. However, the night curfew will continue to be in effect while educational institutions will remain shut.

Welcoming the move, Praveen Khandelwal, secretary-general of the Confederation of All India Traders, emphasised that close to 70% of the city-based business was affected during the period in which restrictions were in place.

“In the last 25 days, the businesses have suffered a loss of over ₹10,000 crore, which is close to 70% of the total business of the city. The wedding season is on and the increase in the guest limit will provide the trader community some relief, although the road to recovery is a long one,” Mr. Khandelwal said, adding that the decision to not lift the night curfew will lead to logistical difficulties for businesses, he added.

Previously, traders across the city had voiced their concern over the restrictions — the odd-even rule and weekend curfews — stating that they were “not effective in minimising crowding” and it would only add to their financial troubles that were accumulated over the previous COVID-19 lockdowns.

Atul Bhargava, president, New Delhi Traders’ Association, said that while the traders now hope to recover some of the financial losses, the government did not provide them with any relief for the losses incurred throughout the pandemic.

“No economic package has been given to us by the government. Over the years, the traders have helped the government by paying taxes, and generating revenue and employment. Today, we need the government to come and help us, but nothing has been done. We are paying the minimum electricity charges, no reduction in GST but nevertheless, we appreciate the lifting of restrictions,” he said.

Brijesh Goyal , chairman, Chamber of Trade and Industry (CTI), said that while the lifting of restrictions was eagerly awaited, the DDMA’s Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) “has to be rethought”.

“The DDMA should rethink the plan in order to prevent a situation where everything is shut on the basis of positivity rate. The hospitality sector and other sectors suffered terrible losses during the restriction period and the GRAP needs to take these factors into account,” said Mr. Goyal, who also serves as a convener at the Aam Aadmi Party’s trade wing.

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