India

Cautious restart: Andhra reopens after COVID second wave

Resumption of normal activities in the State after curfew relaxation during the second wave has not been as simple and smooth as the post-first wave situation amid apprehensions over likely third wave

Total or partial lockdowns restricting public movement and business activity turned out key to containing the spread of the novel coronavirus at a slow pace during the two COVID-19 pandemic waves.

During the first wave, the incidence of infections dropped to a couple of dozen a day from over 10,000 a day in August (120 days) after the implementation of total lockdown and ‘unlock’ procedure in phases. Most of the activity including the opening of cinemas was back by the end of October when nearly 3,000 infections were reported daily.

In a similar situation, the State has again permitted the opening of cinemas from July 8 while about 3,000 infections were being reported daily. The State implemented a partial curfew from May 5 and night curfew is still on in all the districts for 54 days.

Barring schools, colleges and other educational institutions all the establishments, including cinemas, restaurants and gymnasiums were permitted to open across the State except West Godavari and East Godavari daily between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

However, places with fixed seating (cinemas, restaurants etc.) should allow not more than 50% occupancy and at other places, five feet distance should be maintained between people.

With this, a majority of the shops and establishments were up and running. However, resumption of operations post the curfew during the second wave was not as simple compared to the first wave. The second wave touched every family and every organisation and the impact was felt across all businesses.

When the first wave started to flatten, people had no idea there would be a deadlier wave ahead and all activities resumed with much enthusiasm after a long time. Now, there is an apprehension of a third wave looming large in near future among the public.

Realty

“While the impact of COVID-19 was felt on the realty sector it was minimal when compared to the impact caused by the capital issue and lack of development in the region. Many people and builders are still on wait and watch mode for developments to unfurl,” says Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India.

Due to uncertain future in certain jobs and businesses, many have dropped plans of purchasing properties until normalcy is restored. For the same reason, many people vacated their rented homes leaving thousands of houses available for hire in the city.

“Our long-term tenants vacated immediately after the first lockdown and the new tenants also vacated before the curfew in the second wave. Many were unable to pay rents as they lost jobs or had pay cuts,” says P. Murthy, a house owner.

Thin operations

Restaurants were operating uninterrupted throughout the curfew as they were allowed to make home delivery. “Only those who were associated with food delivery apps operate during the curfew hours. Even then the revenue generated through home delivery could barely help pay the bills,” says S. Siva Rama Krishna, an eatery owner in the city.

Hotels and function halls were also operating but with low occupancy due to restrictions and reduced activity.

Cinemas in the city were not opened on July 8 as permitted by the government, as there were no new film releases yet. Some cinemas screened old movies while a majority remained shut. Schools are allowed to open from August 16.

On the other hand, while permitting all public activities, the government is still appealing to people to stay indoors and step out only when necessary.


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