Weekend curfew in the capital; restrictions on gathering till April 30

The weekend curfew will cost the retailers 40-45 per cent of their business, said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO of Retailers Association of India (RAI)
Amid exponential rise in daily Covid cases in the capital, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has ordered a weekend curfew starting 10 pm on Friday till 5 am on Monday. Further, the DDMA, after its latest review meeting today, said all malls, gymnasiums, auditoriums, entertainment parks, assembly halls and similar places will remain shut till April 30.

The “situation of Covid-19 in NCT (national capital territory) of Delhi has been reviewed and it has been observed that there has been a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases during the last few days along with high positivity rate,” the DDMA cited as the reason behind the move.

Meanwhile, cinema halls, theatres and multiplexes have been permitted to operate at 30 per cent of their seating capacity. There are also restrictions on opening of weekly markets across the city. Only one weekly market will be allowed to operate per zone under all three municipal bodies in the capital.

However, the order does not specify which market will be open on which day, sparking confusion among traders and retailers. The DDMA said that these will be selected by the zonal deputy commissioner of the municipal body concerned.

According to Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), the decision to keep specific markets open on specific days is an arbitrary one and will have little impact on curbing the spread of the virus. “It is beyond us how the authorities will decide on which markets to keep open. The government should have locked down the city for 10 days to break the chain. While any kind of restrictions on business activities will impact us, we are in favour of proper measures rather than a half-hearted effort,” he said.

According to CAIT's estimates, since the night curfew began in Delhi on April 6, retail traders have suffered a loss of about Rs 3,000 crore, while wholesale traders have incurred Rs 1,400 crore loss of revenue.

The weekend curfew will cost the retailers 40-45 per cent of their business, said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO of Retailers Association of India (RAI). “It will be very difficult for retailers to recover these losses during week days,” he said.

Providing much relief to e-commerce and logistics companies, during the weekend curfew, inter and intra-state transportation of all essential and non-essential goods have been allowed. Further, all people involved in essential services like healthcare, law and order, news media, public amenities, banking, among others, have been allowed to travel with valid identity cards. Earlier, essential workers from the private sector were required to obtain e-passes.

According to Rajagopalan, it is unclear, whether deliveries by all types of retailers are allowed or it is restricted to only e-commerce companies. “They should simply allow all kinds of home deliveries, as retailers are now restricted to accommodate customers physically,” he said.

Meanwhile, leading mall operators in Delhi are staring at another period of total loss of business. The two-week shutdown will hit their finances hard.

According to Yogeshwar Sharma, CEO and executive director of Select City Walk mall in South Delhi, visits to the premium property were already down to 50 per cent of pre-Covid levels, when some 30,000 people would visit the mall on a weekday in April. Now the retailers and mall owners are bracing themselves for a total loss of business to the tune of 8-10 per cent of their annual sales.

Consumer goods companies in the appliances space said compared to last year, they anticipate lower impact of these measures. 

Kamal Nandi, business head & executive vice-president at Godrej Appliances, said if outlets are allowed to operate on weekdays, then demand for summer items like air conditioners is likely to remain steady. However, curfew and lockdown measures across several North Indian states will impact supply of consumer durables in the coming weeks. “Manufacturers usually have a month's inventory ahead of a crucial season like summer. But if restrictions continue beyond 20 days, then there will surely be supply constraints in the market,” he said.

Mohit Malhotra, chief executive of Dabur India, said the firm has been building inventory in anticipation of such measures and thus it accelerated supply of items to the retailers in advance to avoid any major impact in the short run.


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