New Delhi: Several states across India have reimposed the lockdown restrictions with a sudden spurt in coronavirus cases. While the Delhi government has raised the fine for not wearing face masks to Rs 2,000 and reverted to the earlier cap on the number of wedding guests, night curfews and Section 144 have returned in states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and others. Also Read - 2 Dead After Receiving Jab, 5 Others Develop Severe Adverse Impacts, Centre Says Not Linked To Vaccine
With these decisions, the reimposition of the total shutdown has started doing the rounds. Speculations are rife that PM Modi, after meeting the chief ministers on Tuesday, might announce another lockdown in states where the cases are rising. Also Read - With 161 Fresh Cases, Delhi Records Lowest COVID Infections in Over 8 Months
If reports are to be believed, the Centre is expected to give states the power to take a final call between blanket lockdown or partial closure. Also Read - UK Man Travels 160 kms Amid Lockdown Just 'for a McDonald's', Fined
However, any decision on lockdown or partial shutdown of markets must consider its consequence on the economy.
Shopping is yet to reach pre-pandemic levels
While a section of media has attributed the surge to festival shopping, laxity in adhering to COVID-19 protocol, data from Google mobility trends revealed that markets, especially those dealing with non-essentials have not regained their pre-pandemic activity levels. The search engine has provided data on community mobility on six categories— Retail and recreation, grocery and pharmacy, parks, Public transport, workplaces and homes.
While the mobility-related to grocery and pharmacy entered into positive territory until November 17, the retail and recreation sector, on the other hand, have suffered the most as it was still 15% less than the baseline. It reached its highest post-lockdown value a day before Diwali.
How retail And recreation sector play a pivotal role in India?
Notably, retail And recreation sector (restaurants, cafés, shopping centres, theme parks, museums, libraries and
cinemas) is considered as the most important source of livelihood outside of agriculture. Business, restaurants and hotels have the single largest share in employment after farming, the data from the 2018-19 Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) had shown. In most of the cities across India, retail And recreation sector creates more than one in five jobs.
Another national lockdown would be ‘disastrous’
If the government announces another lockodown, in a bid to curb the spread of the virus, it would be disastrous for the retail and recreation sector, which is still suffering from the effect of COVID-19 pandemic. Experts opined that the fresh nationwide lockdown can create disruption in both the demand and supply of the economy. (supply and demand is an economic model of price determination in a market).
Analysts believe that the situation will worsen if any option other than a total shutdown would be considered. The order for closure of markets, at a time when retail inflation has reached 7.61 per cent (due to rise in food prices), could bring disastrous consequences for the country.