The recent rise in Covid cases in Delhi has the traders worried about their business which, they say, is yet to recover from the losses incurred due to the lockdowns in the last two years.
The national capital on Saturday reported nine deaths and 2,031 new COVID-19 cases with a positivity rate of 12.34 per cent. This was the 11th consecutive day when the city logged a daily rise of over 2,000.
Fearing that any further increase in coronavirus cases might lead the authorities to impose restrictions, traders have urged the city government to take steps carefully so that businesses don’t suffer.
“The impact of rising cases will be visible after the festivals. There is uncertainty in the market and the traders are not taking large orders. We are tired of Covid waves. Every time we think things are getting back to normal, something or the other happens,” said Paramjit Singh Pamma the chairman of the Federation of Sadar Bazar Trade Association.
Traders at Sarojini Nagar market said that even a not-so-stringent restriction reduces sales by 50 per cent.
“The impact of rising cases has started to manifest. Wholesalers have started asking for payments upfront because they are worried that if a lockdown is imposed then their payments might get stuck.
“We have started taking precautions, asking traders to be careful and exercise utmost caution like wearing masks and sanitising,” said Ashok Randhawa, the president of Sarojini Nagar Mini Market.
Similar concerns were expressed by traders at Gandhi Nagar market, the largest textile market in Asia.
“Whenever Covid cases surge the fear of the last two lockdowns comes back to haunt us. Inflation has also impacted our businesses. We are still recovering from the losses and cannot handle another lockdown,” said K K Balli, the president of the Association of Wholesale Readymade Garment Dealers (Gandhi Nagar).
Balli urged the government not to take any decision in haste and consult the stakeholders first. “If any action is being planned, the government should first consult us because we are those who suffer the most,” he added.
Amid the rise in cases over the last week, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said there was no need to panic as most of the new cases were mild.
Despite the rise in the positivity rate, the city government has not implemented the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) devised by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority since the hospital admissions are low.
The GRAP stipulates measures to be taken by the government in accordance with the Covid test positivity rate and bed occupancy for locking and unlocking various activities.
An official said, “The government has asked all district magistrates to strictly enforce the mask mandate and all the teams have been activated on the ground to ensure there is no laxity.
“The government is closely monitoring the situation… The cases might have seen a rise but they are mild and there is no need to panic. Hospitals have been issued necessary directions,” the official added.