Many markets in districts remain shut, most in the capital yet to enforce safety measures
Only a few markets and shopping outlets in the capital city opened on Sunday after nearly one month and a half. Pandemic stricken, customer turnout was low.
Market owners in Rajshahi, Sylhet, Chandpur, Feni and a significant number of them in Chittagong have decided to keep their businesses shut until Eid-ul-Fitr to halt the spread of coronavirus.
Most shopping malls in the capital will remain closed for now considering the present coronavirus situation, according to Bangladesh Shop Owners Association (BSOA).
BSOA president Helal Uddin said most of the shopping malls and markets, including the busiest markets in Gulistan, Bangabazar and Mirpur areas would remain closed until Eid.
The authorities of Old Dhaka's Islampur Market, Chawkbazar, Keraniganj, Ayesha Market at Jatrabari, Dhanmondi's Rapa Plaza, New Super Market and shops at Elephant road area have decided to reopen the markets from today, he said.
Many customers and businesspeople were also seen disregarding directives for Covid-19 safety measures in places like Science Lab, Kataban, Nilkhet, Elephant Road, Rampura, Mogbazar, Gulistan, Panthapath and Dhanmondi.
Islampur Market, New Super Market in Nilkhet, Rapa Plaza in Dhanmondi, Aysha Mosharraf Shopping Complex in Jatrabari, Multiplan Centre in Elephant Road are the notable large markets that have reopened.
A few roadside hawkers have also started up in some areas.
Everyone was busy cleaning their outlets upon reopening.
Most shops opened at 10:00 am, as directed by the government.
Being Ramadan with Eid-ul-Fitr coming up, the government has allowed shops and malls to remain open till 4:00pm from on Sunday.
But all must maintain health guidelines, said recent government directives.
“I opened my shop this morning but am yet to see customers,” said Mohammad Ibrahim, manager of a retail men's fashion shop on Elephant Road.
“The middle of Ramadan is usually our peak time in sales, but this time we are not optimistic at all,” he said, adding that most of Dhaka’s people were now in their villages due to the virus outbreak.
On the other hand, Ibrahim said, most people who were still in the city, were avoiding coming out of their homes in the pandemic.
“Last year we sold around Tk40,000 a day in mid Ramadan, but on my first day of sale this Ramadan it is zero,” he said.
He said his shop owners could not pay employee salaries last month. “If the situation does not improve, we cannot survive,” he added.
Low turnout of customers marks the first day of market and mall reopening in the capital on Sunday, May 10, 2020. Despite the permission from the government, many shopping centres opted to remain closed ahead of Eid amid Covid-19 pandemic Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune
Majority careless about safety measures
Though brand shops and outlets are maintaining safety instructions, most non-brand outlets and shops, and makeshift roadside traders seemed unconcerned about coronavirus safety and protection.
The staff of JM Leather Collection on Elephant Road were dealing with customers without any protective gear, nor was there any disinfection material like soap or sanitizer for their customers.
When asked about safety issues, Arnab Hasan, a salesperson of the outlet said: “We are not prepared for safety yet. Our owner did not provide any sanitizer for customers yet.”
However, the outlet might take measures soon, he added.
The same was the case at most outlets.
However, brand shops including Bata, Lotto, Aarong were seen maintaining health safety measures for both staff and customers.
Some Aarong customers booked their visiting time slots at aarong.com earlier, but others who didn’t know about this booking system were booking their time slots on the spot.
Shamira Khanam from Panthapath said: “It is a very effective initiative of Aarong to prevent Covid-19 infection. I have come out of my home after one month. Since their safety is good, I dared to come here to buy necessary clothes and other items.”
The manager at the Aarong Panthapath outlet said they were highly conscious about health safety.
“We strictly maintain social distance at our outlet,” he added, saying that they allowed limited customers with prior online booking, an hour at a time in the shop.
The manager said they saw around 200 customers on Sunday.
Several markets closed until Eid, staffs demonstrate
Several markets opted to remain closed until Eid-ul-Fitr as they do not want to risk spreading the novel virus among customers and staffs in such public gatherings.
The markets include Bashundhara City Shopping Complex, Jamuna Future Market, New Market, Gawsia Super Market, Chadni Chawk, Ismail Mansion in Elephant Road and Eastern Mollika Shopping Complex.
Meanwhile, some 100 workers were seen demonstrating on Sunday on the street in front of the Gausia Market, demanding the markets to be opened or their due salaries to be cleared.