Tuesday, January 26, 2021
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Here is the list of clarifications issued by the Home Ministry regarding the relaxation to open shops selling non-essential items

As the notification was in legal language, it had created confusion about which shops are allowed and which are not, which prompted the ministry to issue a series of clarifications.

The Ministry of Home Affairs issued several clarifications regarding the notification that was issued last night allowing shops of non-essential items to open in the country from Saturday. As the notification was in legal language, it had created confusion about which shops are allowed and which are not, which prompted the ministry to issue a series of clarifications.

Rural vs Urban, Standalone vs Market Complex shops

The first clarification states that shops can resume the functions in rural as well as urban areas. According to the guidelines, the shops in urban areas can open only if they are standalone or present in residential complexes. Thus all standalone shops/neighbourhood shops and shops in residential complexes are now allowed to open in urban areas.

In rural areas, all shops, both standalone shops and shops inside market complexes can open, but shopping malls will remain close.

Shops in single and multi-brand malls would not be allowed to open anywhere.

Only 50% staff allowed in shops

Although shops of non-essential items have been allowed to open, they can’t operate in full capacity. The shop-owners should work with 50% strength of its workers. Moreover, wearing of masks and observing social distancing has been made mandatory for the staff working in the shops.

No Alcohol, tobacco, gutka, No e-commerce in non-essential items

Further, the MHA has clarified that the sale of liquor and other items continues to be prohibited as specified in the National Directive for COVID-19 management. Meanwhile, the MHA has not changed its stance after it issued a statement on April 15 regarding the sale of tobacco, wine and gutka. Substances like gutka, tobacco and alcohol have been banned, according to the guidelines.

The Union Home Ministry, which is supervising and monitoring the countrywide shutdown, also said that “sale by E-commerce companies will continue to be permitted for essential goods only.”

Several states had already announced that they would not allow the sale of alcohol until April 30, 2020. However, that deadline will extend till May 3. Some states had earlier allowed the sale of alcohol in the states, but after MHA had clarified that liquor shops can’t open, they were closed.

The MHA also clarified that E-Commerce companies will be permitted to sale essential items only. Even though brick and mortar shops for non-essential shops have been allowed, the same has not been allowed for e-Commerce companies.

No Salons, No Restaurants

Bad news for those waiting for a haircut for over a month now, as another clarification issued by the MHA stated that all restaurants, salons and barber shops will remain closed during the lockdown period. The ministry clarified that the relaxation has been granted to only those shops which sale items, but these establishments provide services, do not sale products.

No exemptions in hotspots, containment zones

As specified in the consolidated revised guidelines, these shops will not be permitted to open in areas, whether rural or urban, which are declared as containment zones by respective States and union territories.

Even though the union government has allowed to open shops selling non-essential items, shops in several states are yet to open as the respective state governments will have to issue directives regarding the same. It is expected that the states will issue directives on Monday, after the scheduled meeting of the PM with CMs through video conferencing on Monday morning.

The month-long Coronavirus Lockdown has crippled the economy, and it is expected that opening of the shops will bring a huge relieve to traders and consumers.

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