A month into the nationwide COVID19 lockdown, the central government have allowed neighbourhood shops to re-open with certain conditions. However, the relaxations are not applicable to hotspots and containment zones.

The Union Home Ministry’s late-night order said the shops have to strictly adhere to the lockdown 2.0 guidelines issued by the government. Masks, gloves and adherence to social distancing norms will be mandatory.

“Market complexes, except those within the limits of municipal corporations and municipalities, are allowed to open,” the order reads.

Sale of liquor & other items continues to be prohibited as specified in the National Directives for COVID19 management.

Shops are permitted to operate only with 50% strength of workers.

The announcement comes as a huge relief for small-scale shopkeepers and buyers. However, with public transport still closed, employees of shops that can re-open could still find it tough to get to work.

According to the order, the neighbourhood shops, salons and tailors can re-open business from Saturday.

However, malls, cinemas and market complexes will remain shut to prevent any untoward situation due to large gatherings.

The ministry also added that sales by e-commerce companies like Amazon, Flipkart will continue to be restricted to essential goods only.

At least two states – Delhi and Assam – have said they will not allow shops to be opened till assessing the situation. While Delhi will hold a review later today, Assam will assess the situation on Monday.

“Discussions are underway. Whatever is finalised, will be started only after 30th April,” Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain told news agency ANI. In Mumbai, the restrictions won’t be eased, the city police tweeted this afternoon.

Across India, more than 24,000 people have coronavirus, over 700 have died due to the highly contagious illness, which originated in China’s Wuhan city in December and spread across the world within months. A nationwide lockdown to check its spread began on March 25; it was extended to May 3 last week.

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