The ongoing restrictions will be eased from Wednesday midnight to 6am on July 23
Although the government has decided to reopen shops a few days before Eid-ul-Azha, shop owners say it is too late to recoup losses mounting since the lockdown went into effect.
Helal Uddin, president of the Bangladesh Dokan Malik Samity, said that shops can reopen by maintaining health and safety guidelines, but most are facing an acute staff shortage as the sales representatives have gone to their hometowns.
“But shops will not be able to recover from the losses as Eid is just around the corner,” he added.
He also said that shop owners will provide allowances and bonuses to staff as per the directive of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
After Eid, we will wait for government orders regarding opening our shops,” he said. The government has already announced a two-week strict lockdown from July 23, two days after Eid.
Traders also fear that new products will just sit idle on store shelves as shops have been closed for a long time.
Tofazzal Hossain, owner of Mitu Fashion at New Market, said since last year, his business has been slow.
“It is good news that the government has allowed us to operate prior to Eid, but we do not know how many customers will show up amid high Covid-19 infection and death rates,” he added.
Another shop owner at New Market Rasel Tarafdar said the condition of the coronavirus seems to be worsening and they have no choice but to accept the lockdowns.
“But the losses incurred since last year are proving hard to recover from. I hope for some business in the next five days so that I can pay the rent at least,” he said.
Dewan Aminul Islam, president of the New Market Merchants' Association, said: "Although the extent of the losses could not be ascertained, all traders have suffered some losses.
“Things are uncertain this time compared to last year and traders are facing more losses due to the closure of business. We will follow the government decision as Covid-19 infections are breaking new records regularly,” he added.
According to an estimate by the Dokan Malik Samity, shops across the country lose Tk1,074 crore per day during the lockdown.
The ongoing restrictions will be eased from Wednesday midnight to 6am on July 23, according to a notification by the Cabinet Division on Tuesday.
The decision has been taken for the Eid-ul-Azha celebrations, to allow the people to travel and to conduct pre-Eid business and trade “in consideration of the socio-economic condition and the need to maintain normal economic activity,” the notification reads.
However, people must remain alert and follow health protocols, like wearing masks, “strictly”, said the notification.