KARACHI: Chairman Businessmen Group (BMG) and former President Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) Siraj Kassam Teli has urged the Sindh Government to completely do away with the ongoing lockdown at least during the last week of Ramadan in which all the shops and shopping malls be permitted to operate 24-hours a day. This would not only help in dealing with the overcrowding issue at various commercial markets due to limited timings but would enable the small traders/ shopkeepers to recover some of the previous losses suffered by them because of the prolonged lockdown that began from March 23. In a statement issued, Siraj Teli stressed that the lockdown has to be completely relaxed during the last six days from Monday to Saturday before Eid so that Karachiites could visit commercial markets without any hassle, haste or worries while the shopkeepers could also deal with their customers in an uncrowded atmosphere which was really needed to ensure social distancing, one of the key precautionary measure required to effectively contain further spread of coronavirus pandemic. “Subsequently, the lockdown can once again be fully re-imposed during Eid-ul-Fitr holidays and up to May 31 as announced by Sindh Government and from June 1, 2020 onwards, the Sindh government, after reviewing the overall situation, may follow the same formula in which small traders/ shopkeepers are allowed to operate for four days a week from Monday to Thursday and the lockdown remains active on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. While appreciating numerous steps taken by Sindh Government since the imposition of lockdown to prevent spread of coronavirus pandemic particularly the hard work by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Chairman BMG regretted that it was really unfortunate to see that during last week when the lockdown was eased, small traders and shopkeepers breached their commitments made to Sindh Government by grossly ignoring the mutually agreed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). “The Karachi Chamber, being the premier Chamber and actual representative of the entire business & Industrial community, is not only too concerned about the losses suffered by small traders, shopkeepers and the industrialists but also equally worried about the lives of the masses as we cannot afford to run our businesses at the cost of the lives of the innocent public, who could become victim of the life-threatening virus anytime, hence it is the moral and social responsibility of everyone to adopt the SOPs”, Siraj Teli said, while appealing the Small Traders and Shopkeepers from each and every commercial market across Karachi to strictly adhere to all the SOPs at any cost during the remaining days of the ongoing shopping season of Eid ul Fitr as any negligence towards these SOPs would create a disastrous situation, which was already too bad as the number of COVID-19 infected people continues to rise across the country. “Meanwhile, the citizens must also be very careful and take necessary precautionary measures so that we all could collectively battle against the life threatening coronavirus pandemic and save our beloved country from further disaster”, he added. Siraj Teli further commented, “Since day one, I have been reiterating that Coronavirus is not going to go anywhere and it is going to stay with us for the time being. It has become part of our lives and we will have to live with it. We cannot afford to keep the businesses closed forever so the government and the business community will have to jointly devise ways and means of how to safely get back to daily routine life in the presence of the virus.” He was of the opinion that all the SOPs were not just limited to the shopping season of Ramadan only but these must become part of our daily lives and routine business activities. He said, “The Sindh government has strived really hard during the last almost two months to contain the spread of coronavirus pandemic. We cannot put all these efforts at stake hence, the shopkeepers must strictly ensure social distancing and take precautionary measures within and outside their business premises which is not only in favor of their own lives and businesses but also in the larger interest of the country. Every single life is very important so we all have to maintain strict discipline and adopt the SOPs which would help us in continuing our businesses in the presence of the virus”.