Keeping in mind the four Covid-19 cases detected in the Kurseong sub-division, the Kurseong Byabasayik Sangathan has decided to shut all business establishments dealing with non-essential goods in Kurseong until 7 June. In Darjeeling, however, the business community said it will open all shops on alternate days from tomorrow, while those selling essentials will open as usual every day.

On the other hand, a major decision was taken by the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha Byapari Sangathan in Kurseong. The association held a meeting in the Town Community Hall at Naya Bazaar, where they decided to close all fruit, fish, meat and vegetable shops from 3 June to 9 June, so as to stop the possible spread of the virus.

“Covid cases have been reported in Kurseong town areas. Hence, for the safety and security of shopkeepers and the general public, we have decided to close all vegetable, fruit, fish and meat shops from 3 June to 9 June as a precautionary measure,” a representative of the Byapari Sangathan, Ajay Pradhan, said.

However, asked by reporters to comment on the matter, Darjeeling DM, S Poonnambalam, said: “We have not received any such decision officially. If it is the case, we can’t force the markets to open, but we’ll have a discussion with them so that essential commodities are available to the people.”

In Darjeeling, the Darjeeling Chamber of Commerce (DCC) categorized shops in two sets, which will open on alternate days, except those selling essential commodities. As per government guidelines, all shops had opened for two days here recently, but were closed after an appeal made by GTA chairman Anit Thapa.

“We have decided to open shops in a phased manner, as opening all at once will create problems. There seems to be no limit of the lockdown and looks like we have to live with coronavirus, for which we have to change our marketing strategy by keeping safety in mind,” DCC vice president Vimal Mintri said.

The DCC has fixed a routine for shops that will remain open alternatively three times a week from eight in the morning to three in the afternoon. They maintained that shops selling commodities like hardware, electronics, mobile, timber, motor parts, and utensils would remain open on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, while shops selling clothes, shoes, jewellery, stationery, pan, cosmetics, and parlours would remain open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

On Sundays, all these shops would however remain closed. “There are some shops which are not our members and we request them to also open three days a week,” said Mr Mintri. He further urged shops to strictly follow social distancing and make sure customers are wearing masks and that shops provide them with hand sanitizers.