The announcement by the Punjab government to close all markets in the province from Tuesday till August 5 to check the spread of Covid-19 during the Eid al-Adha holidays triggered anger among traders.
As the announcement was made and a notification issued to enforce a lockdown for nine days, a large number of shoppers thronged markets causing gridlocks at the main crossings of Murree Road and in Raja Bazaar.
The traders rejected the government’s move and announced that they would not pull their shutters down come what may.
Sharjeel Mir, a traders’ leader, in a video message said when the government started the lockdown to combat the coronavirus the traders launched an awareness campaign and supported the safety measures to contain the spread of the virus.
He acknowledged that the government had earlier accepted a traders’ demand and started the smart lockdown.
“But this time, we can’t afford more lockdowns when the Covid-19 cases are decreasing.”
He said traders had already suffered huge losses due to the closure of businesses and cannot afford another lockdown.
“If the government insisted on the nine-day lockdown, the traders will strongly resist it.”
Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) president Saboor Malik said traders had faced a huge financial crisis amid the lockdown.
Addressing a press conference at the RCCI office, he said the government’s decision to close markets from July 28 to August 5 would plunge traders into more financial difficulties.
“We co-operated with the government to cope with the pandemic when the first lockdown was announced but it would not be easy for the traders to go for a nine-day lockdown on the eve of Eid al-Adha,” he said, urging the government to review its decision.
The capital administration closed all public places to prevent the spread of Covid-19 during Eid.
Officials said Margalla Hills, parks, picnic points and hotels were locked down on the order of the administration.
These places will remain closed till the end of the Eid holidays. Besides, Murree Expressway will be closed on Monday till the end of the holidays.
Meanwhile, the business community of Islamabad rejected the smart lockdown in the capital and closure of markets in Punjab and announced to resist it.
All Pakistan Anjuman-i-Tajiran and Traders Action Committee Islamabad president Ajmal Baloch along with the Punjab president of the traders’ body Malik Shahid Ghafoor Paracha reacted sharply to the lockdown announcement.
“If it is done, the business community will put up full resistance and the responsibility for the situation will be on Chief Minister Usman Buzdar,” said Baloch.
He said Federal Minister for Information Shibli Faraz had recently announced that there would be no more lockdowns. Baloch also referred to the statement of Prime Minister Imran Khan supporting smart lockdowns.
“But this decision of the nine-day lockdown is unjustified,” Baloch said.
The traders said the decision would lead to collapse of the local economy and badly affect small traders.
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