In nine small towns of Kalahandi district, traders have decided not to open shops till May 2
At a time when Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has ruled out imposing lockdown or shutdown measures saying it would be the last resort to fight COVID-19, traders’ associations in western Odisha districts have voluntarily come forward to temporarily close the shutters to break the chain.
In nine small towns of Kalahandi district, traders have decided not to open shops till May 2. For the convenience of people, vegetable vendors will be allowed to operate till 10 a.m.
“The second wave of COVID-19 is wreaking havoc in western Odisha districts. No drug has been invented to cure the disease. It is impossible to ensure that all people wear mask. The only option left with us is to shut the market down. We hope our step will help break the chain,” said Bijay Sahoo, president of the Kalahandi Merchant Association.
Bhawanipatna, Junagarh, Narla and Kesinga towns would remain shut till May 2. Kalahandi is one of western Odisha districts where the infection graph was going steeply. The test positivity rate (TPR) in the district had once crossed 50%.
Traders’ associations in neighbouring Balangir and Nuapada districts too came up with similar announcements.
The trader association and the citizen association in Patnagarh submitted representations to the government to announce shut down so that the infection spread could be checked. Traders in Saintala and Kantabanji have made similar announcements.
At the Khariar Notified Area Council, traders have urged the Nuapada district Collector to impose a shut down till May 2 which was acceded to.
“We may sustain loss for closing down of market. But if our decision helps rein in the pandemic, we will be happy. People will surely return to market following the petering out of the pandemic,” said Susanta Suna, a vendor in Khariar.
Odisha has been reporting a daily spike of over 6,000 cases for the past five days. The active cases too shot up to 49,075. The bulk of positive cases were reported from western Odisha districts such as Sundargarh, Kalahandi, Nuapada, Bargarh, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur and Balangir.
On Sunday Mr. Patnaik said, “everyone should wear mask and keep social distance. I don’t want restrictive measures such as lockdown or shutdown. This will weaken our economy. If people remain alert, we will fight COVID-19 without resorting to lockdown.”
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