Businesses – cinema, retail and shopping industries have just begun their recovery process and will not be able to bear another lockdown, says industry associations. They have urged Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to not impose a lockdown in Maharashtra.
Maharashtra, on Thursday, recorded 43,183 new COVID-19 cases, its highest one-day rise since the pandemic began, taking its cumulative caseload to 28,56,163. Rajesh Tope, Maharashtra Health Minister, said people should be ready for stringent measures in the coming days to curb the spread of the virus and that imposing a lockdown is the last option for the state government.
Kishore Pednekar, Mumbai Mayor, said nobody wants lockdowns but keeping in mind the manner in which COVID-19 cases are rising and creating pressure on the health infrastructure, some strict measures will have to be taken. The Maharashtra CM will be taking a review of the COVID-19 situation in the state and is likely to announce strict measures and restrictions later in this evening.
With a second wave gripping the state, Pune (Maharashtra) Divisional Commissioner ordered that bars, hotels, restaurants will remain closed for seven days, only home delivery will be allowed. No public function, except funerals and weddings will be allowed; maximum 20 people in funerals and 50 in weddings. This order will come into effect from tomorrow (April 3).
The Multiplex Association of India (MAI), Retail Association of India (RAI), and Shopping Centres Association of India said they are following all the safety protocols mandated by the government and should not be the first casualty of such restrictions.
Kamal Gianchandani, CEO PVR Pictures and president of MAI, said the cinema industry is mentally reconciled with the fact that they will have to co-exist with the virus for now. “There’s a sense of déjà vu for sure because we all have painful memories of the lockdown.” Emphasising the need for stricter enforcement of safety protocols and faster vaccination of people, Gianchandani said businesses should be permitted to function because that’s the only way for them to sustain.
“If we can’t function, the whole cycle comes to a stop and then we cannot sustain ourselves. So, if at all, they are thinking of a second lockdown, we would urge them to reconsider their decision and take a much more long-term and pragmatic approach,” he said. “Businesses, the economy and the virus have to co-exist. You can’t manage and contain one at the cost of the other. Its not an either-or-situation anymore. It has to be an ‘and’ situation.”
Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO RAI, said the lockdown would be a non-analytical and knee-jerk reaction. “Because it means we have given up hope that we can control the situation, that in the last one year, we have not learnt anything new. So, this is really non-tenable situation.”
He highlighted that when businesses were at 30 or 40% levels, a whole lot of MSME suppliers were impacted. “More than the 20% of the retail workforce got impacted. Thankfully, we were able to bring back some amount of economic activity and retailers went out of their way to ensure people got their jobs back.”
Rajagopalan warned we cannot afford this kind of lockdown. “46 million people work in the retail sector across the country in various forms. A lockdown is going to cripple all of them.”