Nation At Crucial Juncture To Open Up And Contain Coronavirus

By Modnath Dhakal

Kathmandu, June 4: Most businesses in certain areas of the Hetauda Sub-Metropolitan City, Capital city of State 3, opened on Wednesday morning defying government restrictions that bars stores other than selling the groceries and daily essentials from opening.

Business community of Birtamod Bazaar in Jhapa district announced on the same day that they would open their shops and businesses from this Saturday.

Some of the commodity associations have also issued statements saying the government should change the modality of lockdown, else they would open their businesses on their own.

The extended lockdown has cost dearly to an individual as well as the national economy. While there are estimations that the economy is going to lose about Rs 168 billion, household impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown enforced to save the lives of people is yet to be assessed.

President of Makwanpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry Krishna Katuwal said on Wednesday that businesspeople were forced to open their shops as their source of income was cut due to lockdown.

Senior Vice-President of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Shekhar Golchha has demanded for a total opening of businesses and industries across the country. “The virus is to remain with us and we have to find a way to live with it. The lockdown has turned into an economic disaster,” he said.

According to him, the industries are ready to operate with the provision of physical distancing and necessary health measures and materials.

However, Immediate Past President of the Confederation of Nepalese Industries Hari Bhakta Sharma recommended having a sound COVID-19 testing facility across the country. “Better health infrastructure, especially laboratories to test the virus, will be instrumental in relaxing the lockdown. It will support the entrepreneurs to run their businesses without much fear,” he said.

He said since many industries did not have the capacity to keep their workers inside the factory, there should be measures to keep the workers at their homes with regular health services and emergency testing facility. Sharma is a health entrepreneur and runs Deurali Janta Pharmaceuticals.

“A sound tracking system and scientific quarantine camps will certainly help in easing the lockdown and subsequently help people in coming out of the fear of pandemic,” he said.

But, immediate solution to the problem is not visible as the number of infected people is increasing day by day.
The High Level Coordination Committee for Prevention and Control of COVID-19 is working to change lockdown modalities by identifying and marking the areas as high-risk and low-risk zones.

Assessment is underway in terms of easing the lockdown while maintaining measures to control the spread of the pandemic. The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies (MoICS) said that there were sufficient discussions about the move.

“We are assessing the situation and working on the modalities to ease the lockdown. Multiple ministries are working on it,” said Dr Baikuntha Aryal, Secretary at the MoICS.

However, the Ministry of Health and Population is busy with the emergency response plan and managing the returnee migrant workers. “There is no formal discussion about relaxing the lockdown in the ministry,” said Dr Sameer Kumar Adhikari, Deputy Spokesperson at the MoHP.

The Rising Nepal

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