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Mumbai: Shop owners feel at 'ease'

12:29 AM Aug 04, 2021 | Pratip Acharya
Mumbai: As COVID-19 cases decline, shop owners demand relaxation of curbs

Retailers and shop owners have welcomed the decision of the state government and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to extend business hours. According to the Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA), allowing non-essential shops to operate till 10pm will boost the business and may help them recover the losses incurred in the lockdown. "Customers will now be able to visit shops with a relaxed mind," said Viren Shah, president of FRTWA. The state government should now prioritise vaccinating retailers, said Shah.

Gopal Pani, another retailer said, "The state government and BMC must relax the commercial tax or atleast pay some rebate. Most retailers have set up their shops in rented properties. Paying rent along with the taxes gets too much for us."

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Bhavin Deshmukh, a shop owner in Borivali market, said permitting shops to operate till 10pm will also help manage the crowd. "Earlier, people used to throng to the market in large numbers, as shops were open only for a short duration of time. Now, people can visit till 10pm. This should reduce crowding," said Deshmukh.

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Meanwhile, hoteliers and restaurateurs said that the state government should have also allowed them to operate till 10pm at least. Sherry Bhatia, president of Hotel and Restaurants Association of Western India (HRAWI), said that the preferred business hours of a restaurant is during the evening. Allowing restaurants to operate till 4pm doesn't hold any meaning. "We are being singled out and left to hang. The government needs to lift the restrictions immediately or we will initiate a statewide protest," Bhatia said. "It is very disappointing that the government is not interacting with us. We need a clear road map about what is to be expected from the government. This would help us make conscious decisions pertaining to our business as well," he said.

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