'As two weeks of Ramadan has almost passed, it is impossible to recover losses in such a short period of time'
The increasing rate of Covid-19 infection rates in Bangladesh is alarming for market owners, who suspect that there will not be an adequate amount of shoppers once the markets and shopping malls reopen Sunday, less than three weeks away from Eid-ul-Fitr.
Not only that, but Helal Uddin, president of Bangladesh Dokan Malik Samity, said that chances of that happening were slim.
As two weeks of Ramadan has almost passed, it is impossible to recover losses in such a short period of time, he lamented.
“Shoppers in our country usually do their Eid shopping in the first two weeks of Ramadan; they then focus on returning to their villages rather than shopping in the last two weeks. So, there is a little possibility of loss recovery at this stage,” said Helal.
Moreover, shop owners and traders faced an accumulated loss of nearly Tk45,000-50,000 crore due to all the lockdowns and shutdowns, beginning from March last year until now, claimed the Dokan Malik Samity president.
Helal Uddin, also suspects that due to a small number of shoppers at markets, traders will only earn enough to cover their overhead expenses, let alone recuperate losses made during the locking starting on Pohela Boishakh earlier this month.
Industry insiders said it was a monumental task, since the first two weeks of Ramadan were taken up by the countrywide lockdown.
They are anxious as to how they will recuperate losses from Pohela Boishakh in the last two weeks before Eid-ul-Fitr.
On Friday, the government announced the reopening of all shopping malls and markets across the country from April 25.
The restrictions on movement are likely to be relaxed to some extent from April 28, two weeks before the Eid-ul-Fitr.
But there has not been any final decision yet and it is not clear right now to which extent the restrictions will be slackened. “The decision will be taken on April 28,” State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain told the media on Friday
“Even if the restrictions are relaxed, we’ll have to properly maintain health guidelines and the government will ensure strict implementation of ‘no mask, no service’ policy,” Helal Uddin said.
The shops and malls will remain open from 10am to 5pm every day.
Legal action will be taken if hygiene rules are not maintained properly.
The Cabinet Division in this regard issued a gazette notification on Friday.
The decision has been taken considering the livelihood of people, said the notification.
During the strict lockdown that began on April 14, the government closed all shops and markets across the country.
However, online sales were allowed only after maintaining hygiene rules. Besides, kitchen markets and grocery shops remained open for certain hours amid the lockdown.
Bangladesh has been again seeing a steep rise in Covid-19 deaths and infections in the last few weeks, taking the tally of the total infected to 736,074 and fatalities to 10,781 till Thursday.
Starting from April 7, the country has gone through a soft lockdown and a strict lockdown.
The first phase of strict lockdown started on April 14 and ended on April 21 midnight. The second phase started from 6am on April 22 and will continue till April 28.
Last week, Bangladesh Dokan Malik Samity demanded that markets, shops and small businesses be reopened from April 22 in compliance with all necessary hygiene rules.
At the same time, they demanded that half of the total Tk96,608 crore and half of the Tk46,354 crore be given to small traders as incentives before Eid for the two-month salary and bonus of the workers and employees.