Mumbai: In many wards, shops open on both sides
While places like Dadar saw confusion, the only saving grace was people's caution in coming out on the streets
Unlike the liquor shops that brought chaos on the roads during the brief reopening last month, there was lukewarm response to garment, hardware and other stores resuming business on Friday. Shopowners are hoping next week will see a better response.
Moreover, not all shops reopened as many owners decided to wait till Monday, some hoping for clarity on which side of the road is right and which is left, so that the alternate plan can be properly implemented. The BMC has allowed shops on either sides to reopen on alternate days to ensure lesser crowd.
City partially reopened on Friday with caution, as the government has relaxed certain COVID-19 lockdown restrictions during lockdown 5.0, allowing shops, except restaurants, malls and salons, to reopen. BMC has also allowed plumbers, electricians, pest-control companies and technicians to resume work.
In Borivli, several garment and hardware sellers reopened their shops on one side, but not many customers came out for shopping. They shut shops post-afternoon, even though the BMC has allowed them to operate till 5 pm.
"In Borivli, the right side of the road was decided in relation to the railway station. But the shops will start full-fledged only from Monday. Some of the shopkeepers went to native places when the lockdown started. While there is the issue of migrant workers returning home, the shops also need to be washed and sanitised," said Vidyarthi Singh, a local corporator from Borivli East.
Abhishek Raut, a resident of I C Colony, said, "The shops may have been given guidelines to ensure safety, but it is better to wait and before venturing out for shopping of non-essential items. Moreover, those items are easily available on e-commerce platforms."
Shops, marked on the map in these areas in Andheri West, on the red side will open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while those on the green side the rest of the weekdays. All shops are to remain shut on Sundays
The sides were also decided in K West ward. "On North-South bound roads like S V Road, the right side has been chosen while facing the North, and for East-West roads like J P Road, the right side is considered while facing East direction," said Vishwas Mote, assistant commissioner of K West ward.
Nanji Dedhia of A-1 Super Bazar, who is also the head of the association of shopkeepers in I C Colony of Borivli, said, "Few shops opened today as per the regulations, but they hardly got customers. Local BMC officials and police visited and reiterated the regulations, and asked the office-bearers to create awareness among shop owners."
More vehicles on road
Meanwhile, a significant increase in two-wheelers and four-wheelers were seen on roads in Andheri, Oshiwara, Jogeshwari and Goregaon. At several places, roadside tea and vada pav stalls also reopened along with other permitted non-essential shops. Vehicle repair shops also reopened at many places on Friday.
However, fewer customers were seen throughout the city, even in the popular shopping spots in Bandra and Khar. The few shop owners who resumed business on Friday said they spent the day cleaning their stores, and they are expecting guests only from next week.
Asif Khan, who has been selling clothes off a stall on Hill Road for some 20 years, said he had only opened to clean up and go through the old stock. "I don't think vendors are allowed to open today. I will reopen for business from Monday and we are hoping for people to show up," he added.
Even the bigger shops saw no activity on Friday. Bhanji Gada, owner of Trios, one of the largest garment shops on Hill Road, said they have opened with only 10 per cent of the staff. "Majority of our workers were from Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh and they have all returned to their hometowns. We spent the day cleaning and we haven't had any customers today. Due to the lockdown, we have suffered losses. We'll see what kind of response we get next week and then we will take a call on whether to call our workers back to Mumbai," he added.
Another shop owner, Rajesh Bajaj, said they have to sell their old stock before even thinking about ordering fresh supplies. "Investing in new products would be useless. We have suffered losses over the past two and a half months when we had to shut our business. We are hoping for situation to improve," he said.
Staff members at a Metro store in city clean the premises as it repoens after more than two months, on Friday. Pic/ Suresh Karkera
Apart from shopping areas, popular public spaces like the promenade at Carter Road was empty. People were only spotted at grocery stores and other shops selling essential items. Even, the usually crowded row of footwear shops opposite National College on Linking Road were shut.
In Dadar, the confusion over the right side of the road still remain. "While we didn't get any message from F South ward, the shops on the other side of the roads were told to open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Besides, we are still waiting for customers. So, we will open it tomorrow too," said Chandan Vasaria from Naigaon Cross Road who has a garment shop.
Harakchand Gosar, a shopkeeper in Dadar, told mid-day that "very few customers came to the shops for toys. Obviously, it will take some days for normalcy to return. Today, shops on both the side of the roads are open. I haven't received any info till now".
Meanwhile, many ward offices issued a notification on the timings. G North ward, comprising Dadar West, Mahim and Dharavi, have instructed the owners to allow their workers to leave maximum by 8 pm so that they can reach home before the curfew starts at 9 pm. The BMC has allowed the shops to remain open between 9 am and 5 pm.
City enjoys open spaces after 2 months
Confined within the walls of their homes for over two months, several people came out to enjoy the open spaces on Friday. Most gardens and parks across the city were reopened on Friday after the mess caused by the cyclonic storm was cleaned. Snehal Joshi, a resident of Borivli, told mid-day that the garden near her resident was open only for a few hours in the morning. "There is a banyan tree and women come to worship it on Vat-Purnima. Maybe the garden was closed to avoid the crowd," she said.
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