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Retailers call for a coordinated effort to handle the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic

The Retailers Association of India (RAI) on Thursday called for a coordinated effort to handle the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic instead of creating diverse restrictions at local levels like weekend lockdowns, shutdown at 8 pm and arbitrary testing inside malls.

Stating that the Indian retail industry had faced many hurdles last year due to lockdowns and localised restrictions, RAI said as the number of Covid-19 cases surge and the pandemic takes a new turn with the second wave, the retail industry is beginning to see similar issues repeating in some form that were faced last year with varied localised restrictions across states.

In a statement, RAI CEO Kumar Rajagopalan said that formal retail spaces, especially shopping centres are controlled spaces and have SOPs in place. They have got the ability to adhere to hygiene standards and can definitely ensure social distancing, as compared to local markets.

"However, as soon as pandemic seems to surge, a new wave of restrictions seem to apply on these places first, which beats the logic in our mind. These extemporised restrictions are creating setbacks for retailers as the already stressed retail businesses are getting further interrupted and in turn dampening consumer sentiment," he added.

Last year subsequently, there was a general set of guidelines that had been used by all the states

RAI said it was learnt that "localised decision-making can be political in nature and create a serious impact on the industry". "Many of the states and sometimes municipalities continue to take ad-hoc decisions at a local level, which has a distressing impact on the already strained retail businesses. Last year subsequently, there was a general set of guidelines that had been used by all the states," it added.

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