Reports of suspected COVID-19 cases force closure of Bengal shops after reopening

view of Howrah Station during the nationwide lockdown
view of Howrah Station during the nationwide lockdown
KOLKATA. PTI: Many shops selling non-essential commodities in orange and green zones of West Bengal were forced to close down during the past one week, as fresh suspected COVID-19 cases were reported from those areas, a traders' body said on Monday.
The government allowed non-essential standalone stores to resume operations from May 4.



Around 40-70 per cent shops had reopened gradually in the safe zones across the state, but a section of them had to down shutter again after suspected coronavirus cases were reported from several places, said Raja Roy, state secretary of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).
The business of non-essential goods has also not picked up and it is nearly one-fifth of the usual trade, Confederation of West Bengal Traders Association president Sushil Poddar said.
"There are reports that shops and markets were closed down by the local administration in Jhargram, Nayagram, Malda and Raiganj," Roy told PTI.
Jhargram and Nayagram are in Jhargram district, while Malda and Raiganj are in Malda and Uttar Dinajpur district.
After a new case was reported around 2 km away from Raiganj, the local administration closed all shops of the town except those selling essentials, Roy said.
In Siliguri, the largest town and a major market of North Bengal, almost 70 of the shops are open, said Poddar.
But business is down across the state as people cannot reach markets due to unavailability of public transport, Roy said.
The decline in disposable income and fear of coronavirus infection have also led to low turnout at shops selling non-essential products like apparels, he said.
The CAIT said the Indian retail sector comprising around 7 crore traders has suffered a loss of Rs 5.50 lakh crore since March 25, when the nationwide lockdown was imposed, and at least 20 per cent of the retailers are likely to wind up their businesses in the next few months.
Off-shop liquor licensees in West Bengal on Monday said they are planning to meet the state excise commissioner as most outlets that were allowed to reopen during the lockdown have downed their shutters after running out of stock.
The licensees have started facing problems related to stock, an official of the West Bengal Foreign Liquor, Bonders and Wholesalers Association said.
"Most off-shops remained closed in the city and in districts as they are running out of stock.
To discuss this problem and other issues, We wish to meet the excise commissioner and apprise him of the ground realities," the official of the licensees' body told PTI on condition of anonymity.
Less than 30 per cent of outlets across the state opened on Monday.
The increase in a number of containment zones in Kolkata has also led to the closure of many outlets in the city, he said.
"Sales of liquor have plummeted in the state. The retailers work on a percentage. If the situation continues like this, we will perish," the official of the association said.
Following the imposition of 30 per cent sales tax, manufacturers have also been taking time to supply liquor bottles with new MRP to warehouses of the West Bengal State Beverages Corporation (BEVCO), he said. It would take time for the situation to normalise, he said.
"The entire supply chain from manufacturers to BEVCO and then to retailers will have to be developed again," the official said.
After a long gap due to the lockdown, manufacturers had started production only three days ago, he claimed.
 
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Many shops selling non-essential commodities in orange and green zones of West Bengal were forced to close down during the past one week, as fresh suspected COVID-19 cases were reported from those areas, a traders' body said on Monday.

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