The Punjab government’s directive to keep shops selling non-essential goods shut till May 15 to check the spread of covid-19 has not gone down well with shopkeepers. There were protests across the state against the decision on Monday, seeking the withdrawal of fresh restrictions.
In Faridkot, a protest was carried out through the main-street of the town to the major market. Malkit Singh, a shopkeeper said that they don’t have any other alternative to generate revenue. “We are middle-class people and depend on our shops completely. Liquor shops are open and even government offices are working with 50% staff, so why can’t we open our shops? Our survival is at stake, we are ready to follow the strictest of covid norms, but we must remain open,” he added.
Later, a local Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Gurdit Singh Sekhon led a delegation to meet deputy commissioner Vimal Kumar Setia and requested for some relief.
In Sangrur and Barnala, protesters raised slogans against the government, adding that even a few-hour window to open shops will work for them. They also met Sangrur SDM and DC to seek relaxation in restrictions to ‘save’ their business.
“The government says there is no lockdown, but our shops are being closed. This cannot work,” said Jaswinder Prince, chief of Sangrur Vyapar Mandal.
In Patiala, Rakesh Gupta, president, Patiala District Beopar Mandal, said, “The authorities have failed to identify essential services, as police forcibly even shut grocery stores on Monday. When banks and government offices, which witness huge rush, are allowed to operate, then what crime have we done.” Fatehgarh Sahib-based readymade garment trader said the government should allow the traders to open their shops on rotational basis “We stocked up summer merchandise worth ₹40 lakh before the onset of summer season but it appears that sale will drop this year too, due to covid,” Gupta added.
Patiala deputy commissioner Kumar Amit said traders and shopkeepers must support the government.
In Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar districts of Doaba, it was business as usual for small towns, though in bigger cities, non-essential shops remains closed. Police was deployed in large numbers across Jalandhar city for implementation of restrictions.
In SBS Nagar, police booked 15 people for violation of covid-19 norms. Over a 1,000 persons were fined for not following covid-19 guidelines, and their samples were also taken. In Kapurthala, deputy commissioner Deepti Uppal inspected Kapurthala city to ensure there was no violation of government orders.