Mumbai: ‘Cannot survive it this time’ echo across most trades
BL Soni

For small traders, salons, restaurants or multiplexes, the recent announcement on fresh curbs have brought back bitter memories of the lockdown last year. This time, they have neither resilience nor tolerance and say they cannot survive it.

With retail shops except essential service ones mandated to be closed, the worry on the minds of this unorganized sector is how to pay employee salaries and rents. 40 percent of retailers operate on rented premises, says Viren Shah of Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association.

Businesses also rue that the government has not announced any relief package for them to sustain and are fearsome that the curbs may extend beyond 30 April, if the COVID-19 situation grows grim. “More than at shops, don’t people gather more at beaches,” Shah asks. The order has closed beaches and other public spaces where crowds gather post 8 pm till 7 am next day and also on weekends.

A week ago, the government had ordered restaurants to be closed beyond 8 pm. With the recent order ordering them to be closed even during the day-time, restaurant associations say they will have to lay-off staff. With only takeaways allowed in the daytime, they plan to reduce staff strength drastically. “80 to 90 percent of people in the industry will lose jobs. The government is responsible for that,” said Shivanand Shetty, President, Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association. Already reeling from the effects of last year’s lockdown when they were closed for six months, this time they say they cannot sustain. “We are thinking of closing completely and stop servicing,” says Shetty and assures it is not an exaggeration.

Kunal Sawhney, Senior Vice-President, Carnival Cinemas said that while the announcement of cinema halls to be closed did not come as a surprise as the industry was taken into confidence; he said he hopes it would be a shorter lockdown this time. Prior information about the situation from April 30, onwards will help to plan film releases, he says.

Salons had opened in June end last year after three months of being shut and were still to get back on track. Their associations demand that they be allowed to work on weekdays. Tushar Chavan of Salon and Beauty Parlour Association, Maharashtra said that they keep most hygiene among other businesses and asked what was the need to close them.

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