Shopkeepers confused over re-opening, CAIT complains of police hindrance

New Delhi, May 4 (IANS) Retail shops and stores in the country were scheduled to reopen on Monday with the government's relaxation guidelines coming into effect, but, on the ground, there was utter confusion among retailers regarding resumption of business activities.

Confusion had been prevailing regarding opening of shops and stores across states during the lockdown period and market players said these only increased on Monday.

“We expected confusion… it's a lot of confusion on ground all across the country,” said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO of the Retailers Association of India (RAI).

He noted that the Ministry of Home Affairs' notification dated May 1, has not brought clarity, but, rather, has added to the problem.

Rajgopalan told IANS that in several places across the country, shopkeepers were told by the police to shut their stores.

He also said that states also have not understood the Centre's guidelines. “The Centre, instead of support, has created big confusion,” he said.

“Our requirement was very simple, tell zone-wise whether or not retailers are open. And all that we asked for was if it is a green zone, allow for retail to open, if it is not a green zone, do not allow non-essentials to open,” Rajagopalan said.

Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary General of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), told IANS that several traders were not able to go their businesses or shops as police stopped them on their way to their businesses.

“Ultimately state governments have to give the final directive. State governments only forwarded the notification with the confusion intact. Neither the collector is clear, nor does the state government have any clarity and the policeman on the road also does not have any clarity,” he said.

Khandelwal further said that he had written to the Centre and the state governments for clarity on the opening of shops but none have responded so far.

He said that he had written to the Centre last month asking whether passes would be required for the traders, but so far, there was no response.

“I wrote the letter on 16th of April after reading the MHA guidelines on 15th of April. I have not received any response. Subsequently I wrote to all Chief Ministers also… I never received a reply either from the Central government or from any state government.”

The retail segment which is already under severe financial stress due to the halt in operations during the lockdown is facing another issue in resumption of operations on the other hand, despite government saying they can open with riders.



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