No shops apart from those dealing with essential items will be allowed to open till May 3 during the coronavirus-induced lockdown in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot cities in Gujarat, an official said on Sunday.
The state government had conditionally eased some lockdown restrictions on shops, leaving aside those inside malls etc, on Saturday following an order to this effect by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) a day earlier.
A state government official said the decision to keep only shops dealing with essential items open was taken at a meeting on Sunday which was attended by the civic chiefs of the four cities, adding that traders and retail bodies had been consulted and they were in support.
Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner Vijay Nehra said the civic body had aimed to increase the span of COVID-19 cases doubling from the present eight days to 12 days by May 3, till when the nationwide lockdown is scheduled.
"To achieve this (12-day doubling) target, which is a little difficult, we have appealed to shopkeepers to not open shops till May 3. We have spoken to trade bodies and they have agreed. Police has also been informed. With shops open, the infection rate is likely to increase," Nehra said.
The COVID-19 count in Ahmedabad has crossed the 2,000 -mark. The state government has said that all shops, except those selling paan masala, as well as beauty parlours, saloons, spas, hotels-restaurants, will be allowed to remain open in other parts of the state if they are not located in malls and shopping complexes.
However, no taxi, autorickshaw or public transport services will operate in the state till May 3, it added. PTI KA PD BNM NSK.