September , 2020
Unlock 4.0 guideline is encouraging economic activities
19:15 pm

Kuntala Sarkar

The central government has issued the Unlock 4.0 guidelines. These guidelines starting from September 7, 2020, lift restrictions on a range of sectors. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that the latest plan was aimed at reopening more economic activities outside containment zones. The guidelines also added that states or Union Territories (UTs) would not be able to impose any local lockdowns outside containment zones without prior permission of the centre. Political and social gathering are also being allowed with a limited crowd of 100 people.

Metro rail services have resumed in a graded manner with adherence to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). This decision was appreciated by Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister, Delhi as metro service is one of the predominant transportation options in the national capital. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) have penned the protocols and security related issues in the national capital. Metro rails will include contact-less ticketing through metro cards and increase the average stoppage time at each station to avoid overcrowding. A recent notice said that 80 new special trains will also run. However, international air travel is yet to be permitted except with special permission from the government authorities under arrangements like the Mission Vande Bharat.

Expecting improvement

The pandemic has impacted both large scale industries and MSMEs in India. The transportation and the logistics sectors have been severely impacted. The new guidelines state that there shall be no restrictions on inter-state and intra-state movements of persons or goods. Commenting on the development, Perminder Jeet Kaur, Director, ASSOCHAM told BE, “For business to be back on track - especially manufacturing where a sizable number of MSMEs are present - smooth movements of goods and people are important. With unlock 4.0, MSMEs that relies heavily on human resource has a ray of hope - to progress in the direction of bringing its business back on track. Systematic opening of industrial sectors must continue and with festivals round the corner, MSMEs can hope for covering up the losses they have incurred. However, with regard to public transportation, implementation of SOPs surely holds the key to curtail the spread. A much-needed boost in form of the government financial package will certainly provide some relief.”

The travel and hospitality sectors were struggling since the implementation of the lockdown. The recent guidelines that allow liquor and beverages to be served can help the restaurant business. Only 18% restaurants have now opened up. After this directive, it can be expected that more restaurants will open up. According to industry sources, without the permission to serve liquor, restaurant businesses were only generating around 30%-35% of their revenues.

Sectors still waiting

The MHA has allowed resuming open-air theatres from September 21. However, cinema halls, entertainment parks, swimming pools and similar places will remain closed. Major multiplex chains like PVR Cinemas, INOX Leisure Ltd. and Carnival Cinemas have decided to invest in open-air theatres now. These can come up during early 2021. Their falling stock prices are another reason of despair. For single screen owners, while their existing businesses are shrinking, they don’t even have the capital to invest in new open-air theatres. They will suffer more. As the theatre business has recorded zero revenues for the first time, the country is expected to lose around 10%-12% of the total number of cinema halls. Earlier PV Sunil, MD, Carnival Cinemas told the media that if cinema halls are not allowed to open from September, the scope to recover from the present situation will be less. With the increasing popularity of OTT platforms, cinema halls were already struggling.

Kaur added, “Opening up of cinema halls need due consideration as the film industry supports livelihood of millions and contribute significantly to the nations’ economy. The cinema industry needs support and opening up of the halls with well laid SOPs shall help to provide financial relief to the sector. Several of the malls are open and often malls house multiplexes within their premises. Opening up of both shall compliment sales and thus support small business owners. The commitment of owners and responsibilities of the citizens is crucial as the chance of the spread of the virus in closed environments is high.”

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