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The Financial Express

Amid risk of deadly coronavirus

Most malls resume trade after Eid

| Updated: June 04, 2020 10:01:07


A salesman at the city’s Mouchak Market passes idle time on Tuesday in the absence of customers amid the Covid-19 pandemic	— FE photo A salesman at the city’s Mouchak Market passes idle time on Tuesday in the absence of customers amid the Covid-19 pandemic — FE photo

Most of the shopping malls in Dhaka city have resumed operations after Eid vacation amid risks of Covid-19 that transmit to people who come into close contact.

It is mandatory to maintain hygiene at shopping centres, but a section of people roaming in and around still look indifferent to such instructions.

Visiting some shopping zones like Elephant Road, Science Lab, New Market and Farmgate, the FE has found a majority of the malls open to customers.

Entries into many shopping centres were seen equipped with disinfectant tunnels, arrangement for hand-wash, sanitisation, thermometer for body temperature and advisory posters and banners.

However, traders said they could attract a handful of customers on the first three days of resumption after a week-long Eid holiday.

Many markets started operations after the shutdown of more than two months as per the government order to help ensure social-distancing norms.

Dhaka New Market, a popular shopping destination in the capital, remained closed before Eid despite a green signal from the government for business.

Ali Azam Mia, a trader at the market, said on Monday he had no alternative but to open his crockery shop in order to earn a living for his family.

"Customer turnout is still very poor, but I believe it will be increasing in the coming days. Customers also need different items," he observed.

Mr Azam tries to ensure that customers use masks and sanitise hands before entering his shop even if the market authorities have also taken such measures in each entrance.

Source said the malls are now remaining open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

A customer, Abdullah Al Mahdi, was looking for a travel bag at New Market ahead of a planned visit to his village this week.

"I couldn't help coming here despite risks of getting infected with virus," he said.

Mr Mahdi, who works for a private organisation, said arrangements to disinfect shoppers are good enough.

"Actually, everyone should be careful through using face masks, gloves and other protective gears," he said, adding that many people frequently put off their masks on grounds of scorching heat.

Talking to the FE, Bangladesh Shop Owners Association chairman Md Helal Uddin said marketplaces are now gradually opening up.

"I believe 70-80 per cent markets are open now, though the number of sales and customer turnout is limited," he said.

This is, however, a usual picture in the post-Eid context.

Mr Helal said the decision to keep shops open before Eid helped a good number of traders do some business centring the prime shopping season.

No restrictions either from the government or from the trade body are in place to run business in compliance with safety guidelines in order to contain the superbug, he cited.

"We requested the market operators to maintain the highest level of safety measures. Clients should also be careful while roaming from one shop to another."

According to the Directorate General of Health Services, 709 people have died of COVID-19 and 52,445 have been infected in Bangladesh as of Tuesday.

Meanwhile, sources said some mega malls like Bashundhara City and Jamuna Future Park are yet to decide on their opening soon.

A Jamuna official said on Tuesday the shopping mall will commence operations from Thursday (May 04).

Contacted, Bashundhara Shopping Mall Shop Owners' Association president MA Hannan Azad said there is no concrete decision regarding market operations.

"This is a huge shopping facility which requires a coordinated decision to go to operations amid risks emanating from the pandemic," he added.

Actually, the decision will be made by both the market operators and shop owners association within the next few days, said the businessman.

Expressing concern, Mr Azad said he believes many city shopping centres have opened without ensuring required hygienic measures.

saif.febd@gmail.com

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