Maharashtra traders threaten protest against Covid curbs

Siliguri, India: Maharashtra traders have threatened to protest against coronavirus curbs imposed across the state as the pandemic takes the turn for the worst across India and especially in  Maharashtra. 

According to the State Government's "Break the Chain" order, all non-essential shops will remain closed until April 30.

The Maharashtra Nabhik Mahamandal - a body representing trades in the region - has expressed dissatisfaction with the State Government's decision, PTI reported

The state government introduced new COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

During the weekends, Maharashtra will be under strict lockdown. During the weekend lockout, only key services are permitted to operate.

The Mahamandal announced in a statement on Wednesday that salon owners would burn an effigy of the government on Saturday and shave their heads as part of the 'mundan andolan' on April 22 and hold a 'ghantanaad' protest outside their shops on April 14," local media reported. 

Non-essential shops must be let to open

On Wednesday, representatives of the Aurangabad District Vyapari Mahasangh met with District Collector Sunil Chavan and submitted a memorandum requesting that they be allowed to open their shops or given permission to self-immolate. They also met with Abdul Sattar, Minister of State for Revenue.

According to the traders' body, nearly two lakh laborers are working with approximately 40,000 merchants in the District who'll all be affected by the curbs. 

"We want the coronavirus spread to come under control and are willing to cooperate for it, but the economy should also run," Jagannath Kale, the President of District Vyapari Mahasangh was quoted as saying.

"We have no problem if the timings for these shops are shortened," Kale said, adding that the merchants and traders are in "wait and watch" mode and expect some relief from the government.

While the government order curbs all 'non-essential' shops to cease operation until the end of this month, businesses that do not meet the criteria of necessities, according to Kale, should be allowed to operate with certain restrictions.

Hospitals, drug stores, vegetable, and grocery stores, dairies, and bakeries are now licensed to operate under the current COVID-19 protocols according to the announcement of the government. 

On weekdays, pubs, restaurants, and other establishments will only be available for takeaway packages. Under IPC Section 144, gatherings of five or more persons will be prohibited during the day.

Night curfew

Meanwhile, the night curfew previously enforced by the State Government remains in force. During the night curfew, all public meetings are prohibited. Government offices, public transport, are being run at 50 percent capacity. 

Political rallies are banned in the state. Housing communities with five or more COVID-19 positive cases are designated as containment zones under the virus-related restrictions. 

Noncompliance with the guidelines would result in an Rs. 1,000 fine. The State Government has also imposed an Rs. 500 fine for not wearing masks. 

The state reported 59,907 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total to 31,73,261 COVID-19 cases.

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