Meena Shrestha opened her clothes shop at New Road, Kathmandu, for the first time in two months since the nationwide lockdown ordered in the country to prevent the outbreak of COVID-19. Much to her dismay, not a single customer turned up in her shop.
Due to the lockdown enforced since March 24, all the shops remained closed except for those supplying essential items. Having closed the shop, Shrestha’s source of income dried out. Shrestha, unable to sustain for long without a source of livelihood, ventured to open her shop despite the ongoing lockdown.
The earlier bustling New Road area wore a deserted look since the lockdown. The shopkeepers here left without much choice have begun opening their outlets despite the negligible footfall of buyers.
Much to their dismay, their shops could not record a single sale. “We understand that people are mostly keeping themselves indoors. Those facing difficulties for managing daily meals would not eye on clothes and shoes. But if this situation continues, small scale business persons like us would suffer hand-to-mouth problem,” shared Shrestha.
Another old market in Kathmandu- Asan Chowk-also saw some shops selling daily consumable items- open since Thursday. But those shops did not record a single sale.
Shyam Lama, an entrepreneur originally from Dhading district, who runs a shoe shop in Asan for four years has similar tale to tell. A father of two, he said he could run his household with whatever earnings he made out of the shop prior to the lockdown. But as the lockdown continued to be extended, he also began to run short of recourses, mainly money, to run the family of four.
Lama explained, “I opened my shop after two months but nobody seem to catch a glimpse of the products in my shops, let alone stepping in to buy.” He added, “We received some relief materials from Kathmandu Metropolitan City on the onset of lockdown. Our own savings helped us sustain for some time.”
The daily wagers and people from impoverished communities were hardest hit by the lockdown since all the human movement and vehicular traffic had come to a grinding halt (expect for those related to essential supplies and services) across the country since the stay-at-home ordered by the federal government. At the time of lockdown order, the country had only reported two cases of COVID-19.
The number of COVID-19 cases has reached 2,912 till date. The infection has been reported in 68 of 77 districts in the country, as per the latest statistics shared by the Ministry of Health and Population.
Despite the growing number of COVID-19 cases, some shopkeepers have braced to run their business fearing that they would further suffer the livelihood issues.
While the government is mulling modality of lifting or easing the lockdown, more and more people have taken matters into their hand to ease their lives. They have begun venturing out to their workplace to earn their bread like Shrestha and Lama.
The government had extended the lockdown with slight changes till June 14.
Source: National News Agency