Instead of imposing time restrictions, merchant outlets in the State should be allowed to function round the clock in view of the Ramadan season, Mujeeb Rahman, State working president, Textile and Garment dealers Association, Kerala, has said.
Addressing the media here on Wednesday, he said more working hours meant less rush and hence less chance of COVID-19 spread. Ramadan shopping mostly takes place at night, and the new COVID protocol restraining shops from functioning beyond 9 p.m., would cause huge financial loss to the business community.
Mr. Rahman was part of a group of merchant organisation representatives led by the Calicut Chamber of Commerce and Industry that asserted that the business community was not to blame for the spread of COVID-19, while rallies by political parties remained unchecked ahead of the Assembly polls.
“The restrictions are being imposed in such a manner that they affect the merchant community seriously. The authorities are trying to create an impression that COVID-19 was spread by traders,” said Chamber president Zubair Kolakkadan.
The business community is not against the COVID-19 protocol. On the other hand, all business establishments should be allowed to function freely in keeping with the protocol. The public should be allowed to visit beaches and malls freely. But the authorities should make sure that the COVID-19 protocol is being followed and arrangements are made accordingly, he added.
Biju K., district vice president, Hotel and Restaurant Association, pointed out the thoughtlessness behind time restrictions on restaurants during Ramadan. “People come out of their homes only after breaking their fast, by around 7.30 p.m. If we have to close down by 9 p.m., what is the use of opening at all,” he asked.
C.E. Chakkunni, State president, All Kerala Consumer Goods Distributors’ Association, said the business community had suffered severe losses in the previous years owing to Nipah and floods, besides GST and demonetisation. “If they lose business in the coming season, most of them will not survive,” he said, adding that the government should compensate the loss facing small merchants from the GST collected.
Representatives of Cement Dealers Welfare Association and Textile Merchants Association were present at the press meet.