Stricter curbs in the form of a shutdown to contain the virus spread not only invited sharp reactions from the trader’s community in the twin-city, but some of the shop keepers assembled outside the main administrative building of the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) to register their protest on Tuesday morning.
Shouting slogans against the civic administration and state government authorities, shopkeepers squatted on the main road in front of the main gate.
The spontaneous protest followed after the police and municipal authorities started enforcing the lockdown by asking shopkeepers to down the shutters of their establishments. Shops and market places remained partially closed.
“When you are forcing the closure of all establishments from Monday to Friday, what is the sense of calling it as a weekend lockdown? We had somehow managed to stand on our feet but this time it will spell doom for us and for our employees. The government is taking strange and illogical decisions,” said Ganesh Shivmath.
“After suffering huge losses last year, things were finally taking shape and the hospitality industry had only just started to recover when the night curfew was imposed. And if this was not enough, a complete closure under the garb of the weekend lockdown has been imposed. How am I supposed to pay wages to my 25 staffers or EMI’s of loans? Restaurants cannot survive only on the virtue of take-away's. With this decision, the government has driven the final nail into the coffin, as far as the hospitality industry is concerned,” lamented Vinay Mandal, a hotelier from Mira Road.
“Despite following all Covid appropriate behaviour and conducting business in a controlled and safe environment, it is only the hoteliers who are always singled out to be made sacrificial scapegoats. A week ago we paid lakhs towards excise fees and now we are again staring at closed doors,” said Santosh Puthran, an office-bearer of the local hotelier association. While the streets were streaming with motorists, markets were crowded as people went into a panic-buying mode after the civic administration replicated the state government’s order and announced enforcement of lockdown till April 30.