Good news poured in for Bengalis who are known to have a sweet tooth as the lockdown which saw sweet shops down their shutters is now open for business, well at least some of them.
The big names who have enough labour to make sweets and cater to the needs of Kolkatans with specific tastes are more than happy to serve their signature sandesh and rosogolla.
The West Bengal government on Monday announced that sweet shops can remain open for a duration of four hours during the lockdown period, days after the apex body of sweetmeat outlets flagged concerns over wastage of milk and jobless staff. 60% of the milk consumption is done via sweet shops that use milk to make sandesh and other sweet meats.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had received information that cottage cheese (chhena/paneer) was going to waste after the lockdown and that milkmen were throwing away milk in drains. Some had also written to the Chief Minister’s office requesting the government to buy the milk, as due to lack of funds milk producers were being forced to sell their cattle to slaughter houses or the cows were dying of hunger. This would ultimately result in domestic consumption of milk also being affected.
The cottage cheese and milk industry is also suffering losses due to the lockdown. Hence, Mamata's move could be an initiative to help these people carry on their trade. "Sweetmeat shops/mithai shops may remain open during the (lockdown) period from 12 noon to 4 pm each day with the minimum number of staff only for take away and packed items," read a government order.
Amid concerns with people rushing to sweet shops, however there are markings at 1 metre distance outside stores which ensures people stand far away from each other and only a few customers are allowed into the shop at one time.
However, a number of sweet shop owners said though they welcomed the spirit of the order, the allotted time needs a relook as business is likely to be sparse in that time span. Dhiman Das from the Paschimbanga Mistanna Byabsayee Samity said that the government may consider changing the timings to the earlier part of the day when people usually went out to buy their groceries.
Girish Chandra Dey & Nakur Chandra Nandy, one of the oldest and most renowned shops in the state, wrote on their social media pages that despite the government order, they would remain closed for safety reasons. “Though the state government has been kind to allow sweet shops to remain open, keeping safety in mind, before business, our shop will remain closed till further notice. Stay home. Stay safe. Patience and prevention can help defeat Coronavirus.”