Life returns to markets after nearly 3 months

SRINAGAR, Jun 14 (Agencies): After observing almost three months’ lockdown owing to Covid-19 outbreak, markets partially opened in Srinagar as per the regulations issued by district administration. The markets had closed on March 22.
Srinagar’s commercial hub, Lal Chowk, and markets in the rest of city witnessed some shopping activity.
Booksellers, stationers, hardware shops, showrooms selling bags and luggage, sports goods outlets, handicrafts dealers and photo labs remained open in various markets between Polo View and Hari Singh High Street, here.
While the shops notified to remain open as per the rotation programme issued by the district administration, witnessed a limited business activity, famous markets such as Fairdeal Shopping Complex, Central Market Abi Guzar continued to wear a deserted look, with just a handful of shops open therein.
A few street vendors who had set up their makeshift stalls in the city centre found few takers due to low customer footfall.
Irfan Mushtaq, a salesman at a famous ice cream parlour along Residency Road said that the reopening of the shops amid Covid-19 has further reinforced the need for regular sanitisation of the shops. “Since morning after every few minutes, I have been spraying the disinfectant in the entire shop. I don’t mind doing this job as it is better than remaining closed,” said Mushtaq.
Rotational reopening of shops has brought a sense of relief among both the traders and the shoppers, said Hilal Ahmad Bhat of Khan News Agency. “I hope people follow all guidelines while in the markets,” said Bhat.
While several showrooms in the city centre displayed messages like “no facemask, no entry”, many others kept hand sanitizers available.
A famous confectionery shop at Regal Chowk used digital thermometers to check the body temperature of every customer visiting the shop.
Ashiq Bhat, managing the shop said that the customer footfall was “quite less” but added that he was hopeful that the business activity would pick up in the coming days.
Ishfaq Ahmad Samdhani, a salesman at a handicrafts showroom along Residency Road said that allowing partial reopening of markets without public transport “is a half-hearted measure.”
“Only those can visit the markets who own a vehicle. Also, the rotational opening of shops is keeping the shoppers away as they don’t want to come all the way to Lal Chowk for purchasing just one or two goods,” said Samdhani.
Many shoppers termed as ‘big relief’ the reopening of the markets. “I visited a tailor to get my dress which was lying there for three months. I also purchased a few essential items,” said Shameema of Rajouri presently living in Srinagar.
However, some people were not happy with reopening of markets. “It is not a good way to deal with the pandemic. Although I am out to buy some medicines and essential items, I feel we still need a complete lockdown,” said Rauf Amin, a health worker.
Meanwhile, district authorities on Saturday sealed dozens of “non essential” shops in Srinagar for violating rotational scheme. This reporter saw market checking teams headed by executive magistrates accompanied by police sealing several shops in Regal Chowk and near Clock Tower Lal Chowk as they had opened on a day they were supposed to be closed as per the rotational scheme.
Owners of sealed showrooms insisted that they were only cleaning their shops behind down shutters. However, the officials maintained that “only shops which are designated to remain open as per the official roster on a particular day of the week can do so.”

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