Markets in summer capital Srinagar which reopened on Wednesday witnessed rush of customers who were seen making purchases ahead of Eid-ul-Adha being celebrated on Saturday.
The markets re-opened after more than two weeks of restrictions imposed in the wake of surge in COVID19 cases in Kashmir.
Restrictions had returned to the city on July 13 after 88 containment zones were notified by the district administration. The restrictions were further intensified from July 22 after a spike in the cases.
However, markets in some parts of Srinagar, especially at the city centre, witnessed large footfall today.
Markets between Polo View and Hari Singh High Street here witnessed full-fledged shopping activity with most of the shoppers seen wearing facemasks.
The shopkeepers said they were trying to follow all guidelines issued by the authorities. Messages put up outside shops read: “No entry without mask”.
Many shops had kept hand sanitizers for use by the customers. However, social distancing norms were not being followed at few places, especially where hawkers had set-up the stalls.
Many traders said the prolonged clampdown imposed first on 5 August 2019 following abrogation of J&K’s special status, and later the lockdown enforced due to COVID19 has hit their business hard.
Farhan Kitab, chief spokesperson, KTMF said even though authorities had announced two-day relaxation in the lockdown but “less spending power and limited availability of goods” in the market were proving to be dampener.
“Although some people are visiting the markets but we are not witnessing sales as one would have expected. Fear of coronavirus is also keeping the shoppers away,” Kitab said.
Muhammad Yaseen Khan, chairman, Kashmir Economic Alliance said there could have been “a better rotational roster” issued by the administration for markets to remain open ahead of Eid.
“Suggestions from the business community had been sought by the administration but finally the way markets were allowed to remain open was not as per our wishes. There could have been a better roster for re-opening the markets,” Khan said.
Most of the rush of shoppers was seen at the bakery shops. However, bakers said they had prepared just 10 to 20 per cent of the stocks that they otherwise would sell on Eid.
“There is a restricted movement of people and overall enthusiasm is quite low. So the bakers have prepared little bakery for Eid this time,” said Omar Mukhtar, president, Kashmir Bakers and Confectioners Association.
Though the sales of sacrificial animals witnessed some improvement, but those selling sheep and goats said they were “able to sell only a handful of sacrificial animals”.
The shops had re-opened on June 13 after 85 days of a lockdown but the restrictions were re-imposed in Srinagar from July 13 after a spike in the cases.