KOCHI: Despite the soaring number of COVID cases, the odds of imposing another lockdown is very low in the state now, especially due to the deteriorating financial and emotional state of the public.
Merchants especially have been without a livelihood for almost a year and a half now. Under such circumstances, only codified, controlled measures from shop owners can reduce crowding and chances of infection at public shopping zones, say police.
Kerala DGP Anil Kant directed all district police chiefs to conduct meetings with merchants to collect their opinion on crowd control. The station house officers have been directed to hold meetings with stakeholders from the traders'community in respective regions. Shop owners have been asked to promote home delivery and electronic transactions, thereby curbing the chances of human contact.
"The shop owners raised their concerns regarding the restrictions for shoppers. It is very difficult for them to check if each customer has an RT PCR test or vaccination certificate. If they become too strict, they will lose out on whatever meagre business they have now," said Faisal MS, Thevara station house officer.
According to Palarivattom station house officer Roopesh Raj, the business owners in the area are in support of basic regulations and 10pm curfew. "The shops are checking the maximum number of shoppers, but it has been noticed that some shoppers don’t have necessary documents. The shops in our area are closing on time. They are cooperative," he said.
However, officials at the Kerala Merchants Chamber of Commerce said that the cops are not taking their problems seriously. Karthikeyan G, Ernakulam district president of the chamber, said police only tell the shop owners what to do and what rules to follow, instead of giving them a forum to express their concerns.