India Inc on Saturday welcomed the Centre’s norms — Unlock 1 — meant to ease restrictions on businesses and other daily aspects of life. Accordingly, the fifth phase of the nationwide lockdown was announced which would last in the containment zones from June 8-30.
The guidelines said that only a limited number of activities will remain prohibited throughout the country, including international air travel till June-end.
However, baring essential services, no activity will be allowed in the containment zones.
Industry body Assocham’s Secretary General Deepak Sood said the phased re-opening of activities from June 1, termed as ‘Unlock 1’ with an economic focus, has come in as a great relief for the industry and trade, including millions of MSMEs which should steadily return to normalcy while maintaining vigil against the spread of Covid-19.
“After a stringent lockdown of over two months, the economic dimension of the pandemic had to be considered ensuring both life and livelihood,” Sood said.
“The Central Government has taken a right call, freeing a large part of the economy outside the containment zones. With these measures, the Indian economy should bounce back steadily but surely,” he added.
However, he pointed out that states need to work in a well-coordinated manner to ensure that the movement of goods and persons, restrictions on which have now been lifted, must be adhered to.
“We need to realise, for sure, that the country is still grappling with the Covid-19 crisis, reaching a critical stage. The coming weeks would remain critical and the new normal must be respected for the desired results,” Sood said.
Exporters’ body EEPC India’s Chairman Ravi Sehgal said: “Substantial lifting of lockdown is a sentiment booster for exporters, after months of difficulties and challenges. Even as we count our losses, easing of restrictions on economic activities would save millions of jobs, though an arduous task of rebuilding the business lies ahead.”
On its part, Geojit Financial Services’ Chief Investment Strategist V.K. Vijayakumar said: “Phased reopening of the economy, in line with global trends, will go a long way in boosting business confidence apart from opening opportunities for jobs and incomes. It is important to understand that the unprecedented high global unemployment is the product of the great lockdown and not due to any economic crisis.
“Therefore, we can expect jobs and incomes to bounce back sharply. However, managing the spread of the disease arising out of opening would be a challenge.”
According to Ankur Bhatia, Executive Director, Bird Group: “We are already pushed to the walls. A little more extension of lockdown would have done irreversible economic damage. We welcome the government’s move to allow us to operate.”
In a statement, Zubin Saxena, Managing Director and Vice President, Operations, South Asia, Radisson Hotel Group, said: “We are looking forward to resuming operations within government guidelines.
“Apart from hygiene, our go-forward business model is concentrated on leveraging the synergies of our network which we believe will work in a sustainable manner to ensure business uplift over time. We remain dedicated to exceeding guest expectations in the new era of hospitality that awaits us.”
Meanwhile, India’s hotel industry has welcomed the Centre’s norms under ‘Unlock 1, which allow them to re-commence operations.
Hotel Association of India Vice President K.B. Kachru said: “The pandemic and consequent lockdowns have had a disastrous impact on the hotel sector.”
“We welcome the government’s decision to allow restaurants, hotels and malls to open in areas outside the containment zones from June 8. We hope this landmark decision will pave the way for a graded resurgence of the hotel industry,” Kachru said.
He urged the Centre to consider setting up of a Tourism COVID 19 Fund for enabling the tourism industry to meet its salary and working capital needs.
Major Industry player such as Ritesh Agarwal, Founder & Group CEO – OYO Hotels & Homes said: “We welcome the government’s decision to reopen hotels. We are excited and prepared to host guests with the new sanitised stay experience.a
Similarly, Nakul Anand, Executive Director, ITC, and Chairman of the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), thanked the Centre for reallowing the commencement of business operations of hotels, restaurants and other hospitality services under Unlock 1.