India

Open or not to open: States in dilemma over MHA’s order on shops

New Delhi, April 25 (IANS) With the Union government's order allowing standalone shops to open, it is the states who have to take a final call to implement the order. Many states are yet to decide. In national capital where all districts have been categorized as hotspots, the government is expected to have a review meeting before taking the final call.

According to a senior Delhi government official, the state government will first ‘study' the order and go through ground reports before taking a final decision.

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“The situation is different here; all our districts are currently under the hotspot category and we don't want to take any decision hurriedly. The decision can be expected within a day or two,” the official, who asked not to be named, told IANS.

In Maharashtra, which has recorded most number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, over 1.40 million shops and establishments are raring to get down to business after the Centre relaxed the norms, a top official said on Saturday. These 1.40 million include more than 20 per cent, or around 3,00,000 in Mumbai alone, with the rest spread across the state, said Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA) President Viren Shah.

“Now that the Centre's directive has come, we are eagerly awaiting the State government's green light to resume businesses, though we are aware that Mumbai and certain other parts of Maharashtra are the coronavirus hotspots,” Shah told IANS.

However, with the Centre's green light, it is the state and BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) authorities which are likely to make their stand clear later on Saturday after discussions at various levels.

However, Shah feels that those areas which are not much affected by COVID-19 in Mumbai and other cities in the state may be opened after taking into account all other aspects such as containment efforts or social distancing norms, as advised by the state health authorities.

In Gujarat too, the state government is yet to decide on the easing of restrictions. State Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said on Saturday that after considering the notification, a decision will be taken by the Gujarat government shortly to grant permission for any relaxation.

The dilemma continues in Himachal Pradesh also as authorities in the state on Saturday said a decision is yet to be taken to reopen the shops providing non-essential goods and services across the state amid imposition of curfew as per the Ministry of Home Affairs' latest order.

The order needs review and clearance at a high level as the state is placed under curfew, an official said.

“The Chief Minister is holding a virtual meeting with all Deputy Commissioners and high-level health officials later in the day. Any decision as per the MHA order will be taken in that meeting,” a government spokesperson told IANS.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday clarified that only standalone shops are allowed to open as per the Friday night directive and that the order does not apply to Covid-19 containment zones or liquor stores.

“In urban areas, all standalone/neighbourhood shops & shops in residential complexes are allowed to open. Shops in markets/market complexes & shopping malls are not allowed to open,” the ministry clarified.

–IANS

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