With varied localised restrictions being imposed across states in the wake of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, Retailers Association of India (RAI) on Tuesday said closure of economic activity at this juncture will lead to the permanent closure of businesses and millions of job losses.
Stating that the retail industry is beginning to see similar issues repeating in some form that were faced last year, the retailers' body said that non-essential or non-food retail and malls should be allowed to operate with strict surveillance.
"Shutting down non-essential or non-food retail and malls is not the solution. Considering the impact of last year on business, closure of economic activity at this stage will lead to permanent closure of businesses, thereby leading to millions of job losses," RAI CEO Kumar Rajagopalan said in a statement.
Instead, he added, there is an urgent need for stricter surveillance to ensure that all rules with regards to safety and hygiene and social distancing norms are being followed by one and all.
"Formal retail businesses, especially shopping centres across India have been successfully following standard operating procedures (SOPs) and hence should be allowed to operate with strict surveillance," he noted.
While appreciating the government's "intent behind trying to curb the second wave of the pandemic through various measures", RAI said, "however, with varied localised restrictions across states, the retail industry is beginning to see similar issues repeating in some form that were faced last year." RAI argued that since each state/local body has interpreted the lockdown order and guidelines differently, along with malls, all other large format retail stores are facing restrictions and are being mandated closures at local levels.
It said a retail store, not located in a mall but owned by one firm/company with one GST number and single shop license or food license in case of a food business, should be considered a standalone store so as "to stop unnecessary and avoidable confusion in the market".
Delhi has gone for a six-day curfew from Monday evening, while Maharashtra had announced a 15-day long state-wide curfew from April 14, amid a spike in coronavirus cases