The Uttarakhand Government has thought discretion the better part of valour in deciding the extent of opening-up in the next week. It has adopted an ultra-conservative approach by tweaking timings for opening of essential goods’ shops and little else. Considering the fact that the state had a disproportionately high corona incidence rate and fatalities in a short span of time, the dropping graph at the present does not instill enough confidence to adopt a more liberal approach. This obviously comes as a disappointment for the business community across the state as the ‘curfew’ has come at what would have been peak tourism time. Others states too have extended the lockdown despite improved statistics. Only UP has adopted a more nuanced approach by dealing with the issue district-wise.
The emphasis, perhaps, should be on opening up essential services where not too many people normally gather. For instance, puncture repair shops are closed – just imagine the difficulty faced by a scooter rider with a flat tyre, particularly if it is a woman out on an important errand. Or, even street side motor mechanics for those with car trouble. Mobile repair, too, is essential considering how necessary connectivity is these days.
Most disappointed, of course, is the hotel industry. Considering the fact that entry into the state is not being allowed anyway without Covid negative tests, perhaps a limited number of tourists could have been welcomed, particularly those who have been fully vaccinated. Similar measures are being adopted across the world and need to be considered seriously. It must be understood that till such time the vaccination process provides ‘herd immunity’ and better treatment is evolved for the virus, the only way business can be brought back to anything like normal is very strict adherence to the protocols at the street level. If this is not done, there is no way the present situation can improve. As such, shopkeepers and others who need to interact with customers have the greatest responsibility. If they fail again, it will be back to square one. So, as a community, they should enforce unprecedented levels of discipline for everybody’s sake. Right down to the thelawala. This is the only way forward at the present.