Only 29% citizens have clarity about which shops, businesses and establishments are permitted to operate in their district
29th April 2020, New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued a notification late night on April 24th in conjunction to the April 15th notification, allowing shops and establishments to operate even to sell non-essential items, in districts which lie outside the ‘red or containment zones.’ MHA also issued a clarification on the morning of April 25th morning saying that ecommerce entities will still not be allowed to deliver non-essential goods in these zones.
Since the MHA notification on April 24th, citizens have been raising queries in the various state and city level circles seeking clarity on what is supposed to happen in their area as far as opening of shops, businesses and establishments goes. Many people have been writing about their needs to buy a printer cartridge, school textbooks for children, stationery items, computer hardware, an electrical appliance part and even buying a cooler.
MHA has frequently been issuing notifications about the lockdown and some states have followed it up with their own guidelines which may or may not be implemented by the local district magistrate based on the situation in the district. All of this is leaving citizens and businesses confused. This is evident from the fact that even after the MHA notification to opening of shops and establishments in neighbourhood, many shopkeepers kept their premises closed in the last 3 days due to confusion in rules & regulation and non-clarity on which trades & shops were allowed to open.
LocalCircles conducted a survey and asked citizens if they were currently confused about what is permitted by Government in your area in regards to functioning of local shops, eCommerce deliveries and business establishments.
Only 29% citizens have clarity about what is permitted in their districts as far as business activity goes
27% respondents said they were totally confused while 30% said they were somewhat confused. Only 29% said they were clear about the rules while 14% said they had some doubts. The survey received 8,342 votes from people located in 214 districts of India.
LocalCircles, in its small business communities has also received feedback which indicates confusion amongs startups, SMEs and entrepreneurs. In these times, businesses are worried about they opening up their estabishments without clear understanding of various notifications and then facing the ire of the local authorities along with penalties and hassles.
A month after the nationwide lockdown, the Centre has allowed neighbourhood shops for both essential and non-essential items in the residential areas and urban locations to open provided they open only with 50% strength of workers, ensure compulsory wearing of masks and strictly adhere to social distancing norms.
The lockdown has helped in reducing the number of hot zones in the country, but 27 high case load districts identified by the Government account for almost 68% of the country’s total cases, turning their risk assessment to ‘very high’. Cities which have been worst hit include Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Indore and Hyderabad.
LocalCircles will be making a submission to the Central and State Governments to better coordinate the notifications process such that there is better clarity to the small business and citizenry. An example of clear communication that many citizens have referred to in the various circle discussions is the Junta Curfew day where everybody knew what was to be done.