Coronavirus outbreak: Traders fear losses as lockdown begins today

Updated: Mar 21, 2020, 07:36 IST | Team mid-day | Mumbai

Shopkeepers, experiencing a dip in business for several weeks, ready to comply with government's orders

This picture has been used for representation purpose
This picture has been used for representation purpose

Friday saw several shopkeepers pulling their shutters down and people choosing to stay indoors. With no hawkers, the city's streets too were largely empty. mid-day went on a test drive to see how traders are handling the reality of a 10-day closure amid Coronavirus.

In the Island City

Most shopkeepers are ready for complete closure. Bora Bazar had only two eateries open.

"Business has been down since December. It further declined in the past two weeks. I stay nearby so I keep the shop open," said Muneer Ismail, who runs a mobile accessories shop on D N Road. "We will shut our shops if the government asks."

Bharat Patel, a shopkeeper in Bora Bazar had a similar experience. Though the four attendants at his shop have been coming regularly, the business has fallen to 25 per cent of the usual.

Altaf Shaikh, who sells electrical accessories, said, "But we will shut now as it is important that the virus doesn't spread further." The proprietor of Welcome Hotel at Nagindas Master Road, Harish Mendon, said the restaurant will be shut for a few days Saturday onwards.

In Western Suburbs

Andheri West also saw big shops remaining closed and streets free of hawkers. Small traders who deal in clothing and accessories fear a huge loss.

Saree shop Paaneri was open but had no customers. Anil Patel, one of its staff, said, "The shop will be closed over the weekend. We will decide about next week based on what government directs."

Adnan Khan, who runs a shop in Arsa market, said, "Normally, the business would be worth Rs 8,000 per day. Now it has plummeted to Rs 3,000."

Bandra's Hill Road and the KFC junction on Linking Road were deserted with nearly all restaurants shut.

Sukhi Fashion Jewellery near KFC junction sent its employees back home. "We were told yesterday that certain areas would be closed but BMC never gave us the specifics. BMC officials asked us to close the shop today," said an employee.

Police were seen asking certain shopkeepers selling non-essential items to shut down. Vegetable vendors got affected by the confusion. "We opened our stall at 7.30 am but BMC asked us to close around 10.30 am. At 1 pm they returned saying we could remain open. We were worried that our vegetables will get spoilt," said Leela Gupta, a vegetable vendor.

The economic slowdown hit 67-year-old Amrut Shah, who has a garment shop at Linking Road. "The number of customers has fallen by 50 to 60 per cent in two weeks," he said. Shops on Linking Road were allowed to remain open on Friday.

In Eastern Suburbs

Kewalbhai Shah from Station Road, Ghatkopar, a general store owner, said that the 10-day lockdown will affect his business badly and that the government should have allowed businesses to remain open on alternate days. "The earlier idea was better," he said.

Iqbal Razi a cloth merchant at Station Road in Kurla West said, "We kept the shop open until BMC's orders came. We have already taken enough precautions."

Shopkeepers in Mulund said they did not want to take a risk and downed shutters voluntarily, though 10 days is a long time. "We are following all safety norms.

Coronavirus does not spread through air, but through contact. We will keep limited contact, but shutting down is not advisable," fancy jewellery maker Anahga Mestrisaid.

60%
Approx fall in number of customers at a garment shop in Linking Road

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