The Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday evening allowed the reopening of certain shops in rural and urban areas. The ministry said that the norms have been relaxed for registered shops and ones that are outside municipalities from Saturday onwards. However, the government stated that these shops must function only with 50 per cent staff and ensure that social distancing norms and other precautions are followed.
As marketplaces are gradually inching towards normalcy, some questions still remain -- what about cinema halls and malls? The government had earlier only allowed essential services and goods to remain available. The order on Friday night relaxes norms for the sale of non-essential commodities as well, albeit under certain conditions. But, the ministry order excludes cinema halls, malls, shopping complexes, gymnasiums, sports complexes, entertainment parks, theatres, auditoriums, assembly halls and other such places from the relaxations. This means that these places will remain closed till the end of the lockdown. The government also specified that shops under single and multi-brand malls will remain closed.
Bars and liquor shops will also not be operational till the lockdown is lifted. The relaxations are allowed for shops under the 'Shops and Establishment Act' and the ministry has specified that alcohol is included in a separate clause and not under the act.
Modifying the April 15 order, the MHA said that 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 UT will be allowed to function for the remainder of the lockdown.
As the country heads towards the end of the second phase of the lockdown, the number of coronavirus cases in India has reached 24,506 with 18,668 as of April 25, 8am. So far 775 have been reported dead, while 5,062 have been cured or discharged.