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Lockdown relaxed: Srinagar markets to reopen on rotational basis from Saturday

Photo: KM/Umar Ganie

Srinagar: Ending speculations, Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to relax lockdown and allow markets to reopen in Srinagar from Saturday.

 As per a notification issued by Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Shahid Iqbal Choudhary, the State Executive Committee headed by the Chief Secretary has ordered re-opening of business establishment in Srinagar on rotational basis with full adherence to SOPs.

“District Magistrate Srinagar by virtue of powers vested and provisions contained in the Disaster Management Act 2005 Section 144 CrPC and The Epidemic Disease Act, notify the opening of shops in Srinagar district from Saturday,”  the notification said. 

The administration has classified District Srinagar as Red Zone, thereby making it mandatory for the shopkeepers to follow the set guidelines and SOPs.

As per the notification, business establishment including bookshops, stationery, chemists, medical products, grocery, fruits vegetables, milk and milk products, meat, poultry farming products, repair workshops, e-commerce and courier, hotels, restaurants (home delivery), bakery and other essential outlets remain shall open throughout the week.

 Non-essential business establishment including cloth shops, ready garments, cosmetics, footwear, electronics, and electric material, jewelry, tailors, designers, and boutiques will function three days a week i.e Monday to Friday.

The notification said that handicrafts, handloom, hardware, building material, furniture, furnishing, automobiles, services stations  , saloons, beauty parlors  outlets shall also remain open  three days a week (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday). 

In notified containment zones, the district administration said only essential services shall operate as per norms. The administrations have laid down some SOPs in consultation with the experts to contain the spread of Covid-19 during the functioning of routine businesses.

“Given multifarious dimensions involved, suggestions and recommendations were obtained from SKIMS, GMC Srinagar, SKIMS Medical College Bemina, and Directorate of Health Services and sector-specific SOPs have been devised taking into account such recommendations ad protocols notified by the competent authority,” it said 

Markets association has been given the responsibility of the adherence of SOPs which primarily includes wearing of masks and maintaining social distance.

 “Equidistant circles in paint indicating mandatory distance (1 meter) shall be marked outside every shop. No business shall be transacted in absence of guidelines related to wearing of masks and physical distancing,” it said.

In its list of SOPS, the administration has stressed for sanitization of shops and availability of hand sanitizers and sops for customers.

 The administration also called for minimizing staff strength by 50 percent and opening of 50 percent of shops in shopping malls on alternate days.

The use of Aarogya Setu Mobile App has been made mandatory for the shopkeepers in the city.

Earlier on Tuesday, the traders led by Kashmir Economic Alliance chairman Muhammad Yaseen Khan met the district administration and sought reopening of markets in the Srinagar district.

Later another meeting was held by the trader fraternity on Wednesday with the Srinagar district administration and police over the re-opening of the markets.

“Detailed deliberations were held with all trade and business organizations and associations viz a viz notification of containment zones in the district and limited permissible activities therein,” the administration in the notification said.

Welcoming the decision, KEA chairman Muhammad Yaseen Khan said it will provide relief to the business community.

“I just got confirmation from the office of Divisional Commissioner that markets will open from Saturday. We welcome this step and it was a need of an hour. The business fraternity has been suffering in Kashmir and requires support from the administration to bounce back,” he said.

 Khan said the traders’ fraternity will approach every bazaar committee in Srinagar to ensure safety protocols.

“We have 370 bazaar committees in Srinagar and through them, all the shopkeepers will be appealed to follow SOPs. The shopkeepers will be asked to sanitize their outlets and ensure social distancing by the customers,” he added.

 Khan also said the people too will be requested to wear masks and sanitize their hands before and after buying. “Through these SOPs, we can continue our trade and also control the diseases from spreading its tentacles,” he said.

Trade activities in Kashmir have remained suspended since March 21 when the government announced lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus.  The lockdown has been extended five times so far due to which the business community is crying losses faced by them.