COVID-19 lockdown: Shops selling non-essential goods can open, but only standalone or neighbourhood shops
For rural areas, Centre clarifies all shops, except those in shoppingmalls can open; sale of liquor and tobacco remains prohibited; several states have allowed shops to open after MHA directive
NEW DELHI: A day after the Centre announced relaxation in lockdown rules for shops selling non-essential goods, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Saturday clarified that only standalone shops, neighbourhood shops and shops in residential complexes can open. Shops in markets and shopping complexes in urban areas will continue to remain shut during the lockdown period.
The new relaxation is only for shops “selling items” and not the ones that render services, the MHA said, implying that repair shops, barber shops, shops of ticketing agents, restaurants and salons will remain shut. The idea behind the move is to avoid crowding. Relaxations have been given in areas where the footfall tends to be low, officials said.
For rural areas, the government clarified that “all shops, except those in shopping malls are allowed to open”. The new relaxations, however, will not be applicable to hotspot areas or containment zones. The Union home ministry also made it clear that sale of liquor, tobacco and gutka will remain prohibited as specified in the National Directives for Covid-19 Management.
The clarifications pertain to Friday’s late night order issued by MHA, through which it allowed shops selling all kinds of goods to open in specified areas.
The order was issued under Section 10(2) of the Disaster Management Act and the shops will have to function with 50 percent worker strength and masks and maintaining social distancing will be mandatory. Opening of neighbourhood shops is being seen as a relief to both shopkeepers and customers who have been under lockdown since March 24 to contain the spread of novel coronavirus.
Following the MHA order, Kerala allowed shops registered under the Kerala Shops and Establishment Act — except those in malls — to function w i t h c e r t a i n conditions. Odisha also allowed shops registered under Odisha Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1996 to open.
In Bengaluru, standalone shops in neighbourhoods including ice cream parlours, salons, shops selling electronic goods, electrical repair shops and other essential services are allowed to open.
However, in many states such as Telangana and Tamil Nadu, there is no relaxation for shops. In Telangana, the lockdown will continue till May 7. Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh government said it will not allow any public gathering till June 30, well beyond the end of the current nationwide lockdown.