Most of the normally bustling markets in Dhaka will not reopen before the upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr due to uncertainty over sales volumes and fears of an increased spread of the novel coronavirus.
Two mega shopping malls in the capital - Bashundhara City Shopping Complex and Jamuna Future Park – have already decided not to open before Eid, the biggest religious festival of the Muslims.
The authorities of New Market, Mouchak and Anarkoli markets have also decided not to reopen their markets.
All shopping malls and markets in the capital's Ramna Bhavan area will remain closed till Eid, according to Harunur Rashid, secretary of the Dress Makers Association.
Most markets are not reopening considering the present coronavirus situation, according to Helal Uddin, president of the Bangladesh Shop Owners Association.
"We had earlier urged the medium and big shops in Dhaka, Narayanganj and Gazipur to keep their shutters closed as these areas are novel coronavirus hotspots," he added.
Last week, following the government announcement of a market reopening, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) issued a set of instructions to the effect that markets could remain open from 10am to 4pm.
Additionally, all shopping malls would have to provide disinfectants to shoppers and set up thermal scanners. Shopping centres and malls must have arrangements for hand washing and provide sanitisers during trading hours.
Moreover, shoppers would have to shop in the malls within a 2km radius from their residences. They would have to carry identity cards or other documents – passports, driving licenses or utility bills – with them for verification of their residential areas.
"We have taken the decision considering the present situation as well as the uncertainty of whether we can make profits by opening the shops since people beyond 2km from the market cannot come,"said Dewan Aminul Islam, president of the Dhaka New Market Traders Association.
Md Kamal Hossen, treasurer of the Aziz Market Stall Owners and Traders Welfare Association, said, "We will take a decision regarding this matter on May 10 when all leaders will be present."
Helal Uddin said, "Most of the traders cannot collect new apparels ahead of Eid. So opening the stalls will not be profitable for them"
"There is also uncertainty over how much of goods will be sold in this situation. Those who have invested in new products may not be able to make any profit," he added.
Jewelry shops too have decided not to reopen before Eid, said a press release signed by the Bangladesh Jewellers Samity (Bajus) General Secretary Dilip Kumar Agarwala.
The association has taken this decision to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country, the press statement noted.
Meanwhile, Dhaka New Super Market, Islampur Market, Rapa Plaza and shops on Elephant Road will reopen on Sunday, said Helal Uddin.