Indian Traders Fear Losses as Gov't Goes for Stringent Market Curbs Amid COVID Case Surge in Delhi

© AP Photo / Altaf QadriIndian Home Guard personnel stand in an empty street of Sadar Bazar wholesale market which is partially closed for violating COVID-19 guidelines in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, July 13, 2021.
Indian Home Guard personnel stand in an empty street of Sadar Bazar wholesale market which is partially closed for violating COVID-19 guidelines in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, July 13, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.12.2021
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As per Indian government data, cases of the highly transmissible COVID-19 variant, Omicron, have reached 781. Delhi has the highest Omicron count with 238 cases, followed by Maharashtra with 167 cases.
With COVID cases increasing, the Delhi government on Tuesday announced a "yellow alert" restricting public gatherings during marriages or funerals, and putting curbs on markets, while closing down cinemas and educational institutions among other places.
Many shopkeepers in Delhi, however, are not happy with the government's decision as they view it as "absurd and without logic".
As per the government curbs, all educational institutions, cinema halls, and gyms will remain closed, wedding and funeral gatherings have been capped at 20 people, and Metro trains, buses, malls, and restaurants can operate at 50 percent occupancy.
Restrictions have also been imposed on street vendors, meaning only half will be allowed on the streets. In addition, a night curfew will be in place between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Speaking with Sputnik, Amit Khurana, general Manager of the PVR cinema in West Delhi, said: "Why target cinemas only? They could have asked us to run our cinemas on 50 percent occupancy, or permit entry of only vaccinated people. But closing down our business, this lacks clarity".
"We are seeing no business for two years. No big movies were released. From December only — movies were being released in theatres, and now the government has asked us to shut down the business", said Khurana.
Sudha Dimri, a clothing shop owner at Delhi's Mayur Vihar Phase-3 Market, said: "All of us were looking forward to this festive season to recover previous losses. The government should have consulted with the trader community before making such a decision".
Meanwhile, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) Secretary-General Praveen Khandelwal has stated: "Instead of operating markets on complete lockdown or odd-even systems, the city government should have come up with ways and means to encourage and motivate people to adopt the COVID safety protocol".
He called the government's move "absurd and illogical".
"The move will hurt at least 60 percent of current earning of traders and shopkeepers. The shopkeepers will meet the lieutenant governor over the issue", Khandelwal added.
A "yellow alert" is issued when the city sees a positivity rate of over 0.5 percent for two consecutive days, or cases cross 1,500 in a week.
Delhi on Tuesday reported 496 new COVID-19 cases — the highest since 4 June — and a positivity rate of 0.89 percent. Since Sunday, the city has been reporting a positivity rate higher than 0.5 percent.
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