Liquor shops to cabs: What worked, what didn't as India eases lockdown

A young Nepalese girl is sprayed with disinfectants as she arrives to get free food distributed by social workers during lockdown. Photo: PTI
Several states on Monday gave relaxation in norms as the lockdown imposed to check the rapid spread of coronavirus entered its third phase. The lockdown has led to a major economic contraction in states affecting revenue streams. 

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, while informing about the relaxations on Sunday had said that the national capital's revenue in April 2020 fell to Rs 300 crore from Rs 3,500 crore a year ago.  Apart from allowing movement of vehicles, the state governments also gave permission to open liquor stores, retail shops, and manufacturing units to check the intensifying economic peril. 

Liquor shops open

Many liquor shops that reopened after 40 days in Delhi on Monday had to be shut when people ignored social distancing as a precaution against the coronavirus and police caned crowds in some places. People queued up in large numbers in the morning at the government-run liquor shops. According to an official, about 150 government-run liquor shops have been allowed to open from 9 am to 6.30 pm in accordance with the latest lockdown relaxations given by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

Police personnel raise their batons to disperse the crowd outside a wine shop after authorities permitted sale of liquor with certain restrictions, during the ongoing COVID-19 nationwide lockdown, at Chander Nagar in East Delhi. PTI

Ola, Uber resume services in Green, Orange Zones

Cab-hailing platforms Ola and Uber on Monday said they have resumed services in areas within the Orange and Green Zones, and have introduced requirements like wearing masks to ensure the safety of riders and driver-partners. Both players had suspended operations after the government had announced a nationwide lockdown from March 24 to contain the spread of COVID-19 infection. In a statement, Ola said it has resumed operations in over 100 cities across the country, adhering to the government guidelines. Uber, in its blog post, said it has started operating in 25 cities including Jamshedpur, Kochi, Cuttack, and Guwahati (Green Zone) as well as locations like Amritsar, Rohtak, Gurgaon, and Visakhapatnam (Orange Zone).

Manufacturing resumes, somewhat 

Several manufacturing companies, ranging from auto to textiles, breweries to chemical and fertilizers, have resumed manufacturing operations after getting permission from the respective state governments under the third phase of the lockdown, which begins from Monday. The manufacturers have informed the bourses about a partial resumption of their manufacturing facilities with adherence to the safety precautions mandated by the government and the local authorities, and are also waiting for the approval/nod for other units. 

Commercial vehicle maker SML Isuzu has got permission from Punjab government to start its manufacturing plant situated in district Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar in Punjab. Rajasthan-based Chambal Breweries and Distilleries has also informed the exchanges about the resumption of operations. Automotive and industrial lubricant manufacturing company Castrol India has also started operations at its plant in Silvassa in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

Traffic on Roads after authorities allowed peoples with certain restrictions, during the ongoing Covid-19 nationwide lockdown in New Delhi (Photo-Dalip Kumar)

Buses on the move in East

Odisha government on Monday said it was contemplating to start bus services in the green zone with vehicles carrying 50 per cent of their full capacity, officials said. Odisha Commerce and Transport minister Padmanabha Behera said this after a high-level meeting here. The state has about 15,000 passenger buses which are idle since the lockdown was imposed in the state on March 22. Meanwhile, private buses in the green zones of West Bengal remained off the roads, despite the government granting them permission to ply with a maximum of 20 passengers during the third phase of the lockdown, beginning on Monday. Bus associations claimed they were not confident of recommencing services as it could lead to more financial losses and other hassles. The state transport department had been running skeletal bus services since the imposition of the lockdown to cater to the emergency needs of people in Kolkata. The MHA guideline allows the running of passenger buses in the green zones.

Neigbourhood shops get going

Authorities eased curbs in the national capital on Monday but a large number of shop owners in bigger market areas kept their shutters down as a precaution and some complained that there were not enough customers to remain open through the day. Delhi government offices dealing with non-essential services restarted work with sanctioned strength. People waited outside major banks to finish their transactions pending for weeks and ice-cream hawkers returned to streets in some areas. Several shops, including those of hardware, stationery, apparels, and book stores, reopened here in Manipur's capital. With the state being in the green zone, many shopkeepers here are just happy to reopen after nearly two months of downing shutters, although several of them expressed concerns over supplies of stock in the near term and changed consumer behaviour. In Assam, on the other hand, most of the outlets in the high-street areas kept their shutters down due to the numbering system that allows only one-third of the shops in a row to open on a particular day. The government has allowed standalone shops -- only one-third in a row -- to open in both urban and rural areas and the deputy commissioners held meetings with the market associations and commerce chambers in this regard on Monday morning.

Delhi Police trying to disperse crowd outside wine shop in Preet Vihar (Photo- Sanjay K. Sharma)

Markets open as lockdown eases

With the Haryana government easing some restrictions in the third phase of the coronavirus-forced lockdown, people rushed to the markets. Barring in containment zones, many shops have been allowed to open in green and orange zones. In Hisar, shops in main markets such as Rajguru Market, Nagori Gate, Moti Bazar, Talaki Gate, Bazar Vakila were open. Bhiwani's Circular Road witnessed a long queue outside a bank.

Ensure seamless inter-state truck movement during lockdown: Centre to states

The Union Home Ministry on Monday asked states and union territories to ensure seamless inter-state truck and goods carrier movement, saying it is necessary for supply of essentials and keep the wheels of the economy rolling during the COVID-19-induced countrywide lockdown. Addressing a press conference, Home Ministry Joint Secretary Punya Salila Srivastava said the ministry in consultation with the road transport and highways ministry has issued a toll-free number 1930' on which truck or goods carrier operators can call to lodge complaints.

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