Srinagar Markets, Offices To Open From Today

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KO File Photo: Abid Bhat

Srinagar: After remaining closed for over two months due to the lockdown imposed by the government to combat coronavirus pandemic, the district authorities on Friday gave conditional nod to reopening of shops and commercial establishments in this capital city from Saturday.

The District Magistrate Shahid Iqbal Choudhary today notified and issued a schedule with conditions for opening of shops and business establishments here from Saturday.

According to an official spokesperson, the schedule has been released after consultations and deliberations with stakeholders in which the trade and business associations and bodies were sensitised about notified SOPs and the requirement for observance thereof and measures to be put in place for COVID-19 containment.

“Suggestions and recommendations in this regard were also obtained from SKIMS, GMC Srinagar, SKIMS H&MC Bemina and Directorate of Health Services Kashmir and sector-specific SOPs have been devised taking into account such recommendations and standard protocols as notified by the competent authority,” the official spokesperson said.

He said that the schedule issued under the provisions as contained in the Disaster Management Act 2005, Section 144 of the CrPC and the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897, is in line with the J&K State Executive Committee (SEC) notification with guidelines issued vide Order No. 61-JK(DMRRR) of 2020 dated 07-June-2020 which gives guidelines about permissible activities and allows opening of 50 percent shops.

The official spokesperson said that the notified schedule allows shops including bookshops, stationeries, chemists, medical product shops, grocery, fruit and vegetable shops, milk & milk products, meat/poultry, farming products (agriculture, horticulture, sericulture, etc.), repair workshops, e-commerce & courier, hotels/ restaurants for home-delivery/take-away, bakery, and other essential products to open full day on weekdays from Monday to Saturday.

“Business establishments dealing in readymade garments, cloth, cosmetics, footwear, electronics & electrical equipment, jewellery, and tailors/designers/boutiques to open from 11 am to 5.30 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays,” the official spokesperson said.

The schedule, he said also allows shops and businesses dealing in handicrafts, handlooms, hardware, building material, furniture, furnishing, automobiles, services stations, saloons/barbers/beauty parlours and all other sectors to open from 11 am to 5.30 pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

“The order states that this permission shall be subject to conditions and mandatory adherence to guidelines and provisions as notified thereunder — including that in the notified containment zones only the essential service establishments can operate and that the J&K SEC guidelines must be strictly adhered to,” the official spokesperson said.

Giving further details of conditions, the official spokesperson said that the issued schedule for opening of shops and business establishments is subject to it states that the SOPs as contained in the J&K Government Order No. 62-JK(DMRRR) of 2020 dated 07-June-2020 for hotels and restaurants, shopping malls and salons/barbershops etc shall have to be complied with in letter and spirit. It states that concerned market associations shall be responsible for ensuring total observance of all SOPs in all markets.

“The order states that wearing face masks and observance of physical distancing shall be mandatory and violations will attract strict action. It instructs that equidistant circles in paint indicating mandatory distance (of 1 meter) be marked outside every shop/establishment. It directs that no business shall operate in absence of compliance with these mandatory guidelines, particularly that of wearing of face masks and observance of physical distancing,” the official spokesperson said.

The order also directs that every shop or business establishment shall be properly sanitized before being made operational and that hand sanitisers/handwash/soap shall also be compulsorily made available at every establishments. Besides it, trade associations have also been asked to display IEC material about do’s and don’ts as formulated by the DDMA Srinagar in collaboration with the Department of SPM GMC Srinagar or such as approved by competent organisations at all shops and establishments in their respective markets.

“The order states that the permission to open 50 percent shops is also applicable to shopping malls and complexes. It instructs all shopping malls to prepare and ensure strict adherence to roster of operations as prescribed in the SEC notification as quoted above. It also strongly advises that all shopkeepers – in and outside shopping malls – should download the Aarogya Setu application on their mobile phones,” the official spokesperson said.

However, the ban on car parking on roads in compliance with the High Court directions and the SEC guidelines will remain in place.

“It should be noted that nighttime restrictions on movement and all kinds of activities from 8 pm to 5 am as ordered last month shall remain valid till further orders,” the official spokesperson said.

Meanwhile the district administration has deployed magistrates on duty to ensure enforcement of and compliance with these conditions. While all trade associations and business bodies have assured of adherence to norms as laid down and SOPs as devised in the interest of public health, executive magistrates and SHOs concerned shall ensure strict enforcement. The magistrates have been directed to take strict action in case of violations, the official spokesperson said

“It should be noted that the segregation of trades as notified in this order has been made for maintaining the prescribed 50 percent shops allowed to open. The local market committees shall ensure that in no case the prescribed number limit is violated. The administration has put in place a mechanism for regular inspections to avoid violations,” he added.

The order, the official spokesperson said also states that all guidelines and SOPs as issued from time to time by the government are only indicative and all shopkeepers and business establishments shall in the interest of public health ensure that every required measure is taken to prevent spread of COVID-19.

“The DM has ordered that any violation of these orders/SOPs/instructions as notified by the J&KSEC or DDMA Srinagar shall attract action under Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act 2005, Section 188 IPC and Section 03 of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 apart from other laws applicable,” the official spokesperson said.

He added that the DM has directed that all trade and business organisations shall make all efforts to put in place required measures and ensure total observance of all notified SOPs in markets as has been undertaken by them in during the week-long consultation process the administration held with them.

According to the official spokesperson, Choudhary said that the administration was holding regular periodic reviews of the prevailing situation due to COVID-19 in the district adding this arrangement as notified in this order will be modified or amended as and when due based on assessment of the situation.

“He made clear though that in the notified containment zones of the district only the essential services and such establishments shall be allowed to operate,” the official spokesperson added.

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