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Lockdown crisis

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It has been over a month since the government enforced aCovid-19 lockdown in Jammu and Kashmir considering the devastating wave of thepandemic that swept across India killing people in thousands and infectingmillions. The lockdown has started to show its positive results as the numberof cases and fatalities have dipped considerably in J&K. From recording over5,000 cases each day a month ago, the numbers have fallen below 2,500. Fatalitycount too has dipped. Encouraging the numbers may be, they should not make us complacent.The virus has not gone away. The wave may be ending but the pandemic remainswhere it is. As such our focus should be to follow all the SOPs laid out by thegovernment and the suggestions of the doctors. At the same time, it isimperative to mention that the business community has suffered immense lockdownin this lockdown too. Traders, both large and small ones, are reporting lossesworth millions of rupees. The local economy has taken a massive hit with tradeand tourism halted right at the start of the business season. One day oflockdown dents Kashmir region’s economy by Rs. 150 crore. Imagine the lossesthis year or for that matter, the backbreaking hit businesses in Kashmir havetaken since August 2019. The successive lockdowns have dented the Kashmirregion’s economy by over Rs. 45,000 crore. The business community wants thegovernment to allow them to operate on a rotational basis like they had during last year’s lockdown. In this regard, the Kashmir Chamber of commerce andIndustry last week submitted a memorandum to the government. The Chamber stated that the fresh lockdown has pushed people who survive on daily earnings tostarvation in Jammu and Kashmir, and appealed to the Lieutenant Governor, ManojSinha to announce “financial sustenance package” for the affected. One hopesthat this suggestion by the business chamber will be looked into. That thegovernment realises the gravity of the situation and comes up with a major reliefpackage, at least, for the small businesses who have been the worst affected inthis pandemic. The government led by LG Sinha has already come up with appreciablesteps including aid and assistance for families who have lost theirbread-earner to Covid. Besides, the government has taken numerous other steps offeringsuccour to people impacted by the virus. One looks forward to a comprehensivepackage for the business community as well. Also, one hopes that the governmentcomes up with a system to allow rotational opening of markets while ensuringthat traders and people stick to the Covid SOPs at all times.