Continued COVID curbs on local businesses are leading to increasing losses for traders in the national capital. Stating this, the traders' association are seeking further relaxation of restrictions, including allowing shops to remain open till 9.30 PM.
They also questioned the logic behind continuing with the curbs when the pandemic situation has improved in Delhi.
The New Delhi Traders Association (NDTA), which represents the Connaught Place market in central Delhi, has written to Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal seeking relief for local traders.
''We have been receiving many representations from shop owners/shopkeepers that they should be allowed to open shops till 9.30 PM instead of 8 PM. Closing of shops at 8 PM means beginning the closing procedure at 7 PM, losing the prime business timing,'' the NDTA said in its letter to the LG.
''Given the hundreds of representations on the captioned subject received from shopkeepers, we would request you to please extend the timings of shops till 9.30 PM,'' it said.
These views were echoed by other trade associations in Delhi.
Sanjeev Mehra, president of the Khan Market Trade Association, said it must be the choice of shop owners whether they want to keep the shops open or not.
''As everything has been normalised, the timing (for closing shops) should also be normalised. It must be the choice of the shop owners whether they want to keep the shops open or not. We want the restrictions to go,'' he said.
''We are saying that strict guidelines like wearing masks should also be relaxed in some way,'' he added.
Sarojini Nagar Traders' Association president Ashok Randhawa expressed frustration over the increased losses for shopkeepers.
''We are saying for a long time that the timings should be extended. We have been facing losses because of these rules. The timing (for closing) of shops is 8 (PM) and we have to start the closing process by 7 (PM),'' Randhawa said.
''Offices have also opened. People generally go in the evening to make purchases. This is the season of weddings. So, it makes no sense to put restrictions on shops,'' he added. The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), in its meeting on February 4, had extended the imposition of night curfew in the national capital but slashed its duration by an hour -- from 11 PM to 5 AM. Due to the night curfew, shops selling non-essential items are only allowed to open till 8 PM.
The DDMA had also allowed the reopening of schools for classes 9 to 12 from February 7 and for students of nursery to Class 8 from February 14.
Further, it had permitted all government and private offices to function at 100 percent capacity. Gyms were also allowed to reopen with certain restrictions.
However, several restrictions like allowing only one weekly market in a municipal zone, no standing passengers in buses and Metro trains and a 50 percent cap on seating capacity in restaurants, bars and cinemas remain, even though there has been a marked decline in COVID-19 cases in Delhi.
(With PTI inputs)