Business community in Tanahun demands relaxation in lockdownBusinesses say protracted lockdown has pushed them to the brink of financial instability.
The business community in Damauli, the district headquarters of Tanahun, took to the streets on Sunday demanding that the authorities ease the lockdown.
Small traders, shopkeepers and big business owners have called on the authorities to find an alternative to the lockdown that has been going on for more than two months now.
They say prolonged lockdown has hit their business as well as increased financial burden on many traders with loan interests and instalments they have been unable to pay.
“We supported the government by following the lockdown rules for more than two months. But now we are struggling for our survival. It’s time the government came up with an alternative to this lockdown,” said Kumar Mohan Shrestha, who runs a photo studio in Damauli.
The nationwide lockdown, which was enforced on March 24, has been extended till June 14.
Although the local government has introduced a plan to ease the lockdown in phases, the business community say they cannot do their business with partial relaxation of restrictions.
Byas Municipality has decided to allow all shops to open between six to ten in the morning and banks and financial institutions between eleven to two in the afternoon for three days a week.
However, local traders have demanded that they should be allowed to run their business well into the afternoon. According to them, the relaxation of lockdown during the morning is only suitable for shops selling vegetables, food and other essentials.
Baikuntha Neupane, mayor of Byas Municipality, has urged the business community to act responsibly and follow the rules to control the spread of coronavirus.
“The streets and the marketplaces will be crowded if all the business activities are opened,” he said. “The municipal office has decided to allow the operation of only those businesses that provide essential services. Other shops should operate only in the morning hours as specified by the office to avoid overcrowding.”
Three cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Tanahun so far. Hundreds of people, mainly those who had recently returned from India, have been staying in various quarantine facilities.
Meanwhile, many shops and businesses were opened in Lamjung on Sunday despite the lockdown. Shopkeepers and traders in places like Besisahar, the district headquarters, Sundar Bazar and Bhoteodar from early morning even though the authorities had made no prior announcement about easing the restrictions.
Rajesh Thapa, chairman of Lamjung Chamber of Commerce and Industries, said the chamber had urged the shops and businesses to open because they could no longer wait for the authorities to ease the lockdown.
“The prolonged lockdown has affected the business community of Lamjung. So we have prepared our own schedule to open shops,” he said.
According to the chamber, shops and businesses dealing in non-essentials will open on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays while essential businesses will open throughout the week. Business communities across the country are growing impatient with the seemingly interminable lockdown. In many parts of the country, they have started defying the lockdown which has pushed them to the brink of financial ruin.
(Aash Gurung contributed reporting from Lamjung)