India Allows Some Shops Selling Non-Essential Goods To Open From Saturday
Pedestrians walk past shuttered stores in Mumbai. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

India Allows Some Shops Selling Non-Essential Goods To Open From Saturday

India has allowed shops providing non-essential goods and services to open from Saturday.

Amending its April 15 order in a notification, the Union Home Ministry said “all shops, including neighbourhood shops and standalone shops, shops in residential complexes, within the limits of municipal corporations and municipalities, registered under the Shops and Establishment Act of the respective State and UTs (union territories)” will be allowed to open during the lockdown.

However, the relief has not been extended to shops in market places, multi-brand, and single-brand malls located in municipality areas, coronavirus hotspots and containment areas.

Sale of liquor and other items specified in the National Directives for Covid-19 management continues to be prohibited.

The government also clarified that e-commerce companies will only be permitted to sell essential goods. Restaurants, salons and barber shops will continue to remain closed as they render services. Only shops which sell items will be allowed to open.

The opening of shops selling non-essential goods and services from Saturday will be subjected to the conditions that they will run with 50 percent strength of workers, wearing of masks and following social distancing.

The Retailers Association of India said in a statement that while it supports the government’s efforts to open up the retail sector, it feels that the circular is open to interpretation.

The retail body has asked for clarification on terms like “market complexes” and has agreed to work with the government to make the process of opening retail easier.

“We would recommend that the government open up all channels of retail on a date that it feels safe with the social distancing norms clearly defined. Local authorities can ensure strict implementation and action” RAI said in a statement.

It also asked for permission to open malls in the country as they are professionally run and would be able to control the environment for safety and social distancing.

The Flipkart Group, in an email statement, has urged the government to consider gradual opening of delivery of non-essential goods through e-commerce platforms.

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