New Market gears up for reopening in troubled times31 May 2020 bdnews24.com
Dhaka's New Market will pull up its shutters on Sunday after more than two months of closure during the shutdown over the coronavirus outbreak.
Three of the complex's four gates will be opened to the public with several restrictions aimed at maintaining social distancing and other health protocols for the safety of customers, said Aminul Islam Shaheen, the president of New Market Shop Owners' Association.
Other shops in the area, including Chandni Chawk and Chandrima Super Market, are set to reopen this week, according to traders.
New Market had closed its doors to the public a few days before the start of the nationwide lockdown on Mar 26. Although the market authorities were given the green light to reopen in early May for Eid-ul-Fitr, traders decided to keep the shutters down fearing a further spread of the coronavirus infection.
"We are passing through a difficult phase of the coronavirus outbreak. But in order to protect our livelihoods, the decision was taken to reopen the market despite the health risks," Shahin, a leading trader at the market, told bdnews24.com.
The government and the police administration have imposed some restrictions on the reopening of shops. Apart from this, New Market authorities have also taken a few of their own initiatives.
New Market has issued instructions requiring buyers and sellers to wear masks at all times. In addition, the traders' association is also setting up two shops to sell masks at each of the two main gates. There will be several other mask shops inside the complex as well.
Chandrima Supermarket next door is also planning to reopen on Wednesday, according to Manjurul Islam, president of its shop owners' association.
"The market has been closed for a while. Those who had added new products to their inventories ahead of Eid are now riddled with debt. The thought of repaying the bank loans have been playing on traders' minds during the shutdown," he said.
"Then there are the daily expenses as well. Our employees are also facing financial hardships. Under the circumstances, many are reopening their stores despite the risks being clear."
Shoppers will be allowed to enter and exit through gates one and two, according to the shop owners' association of New Market. Gate four will be used for entry alone while the gate facing the New Super Market will be kept closed as the safety standards at the two marketplaces differ, according to the market authorities.
The authorities will put burlap sacks at the entrances to disinfect shoes. The sacks will be soaked in soapy water or water mixed with bleaching powder. Floor mats made of coconut husk, also soaked in water mixed with bleaching powder, will be kept on the side.