The Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) wrote its concerns in a letter addressed to Thackeray Friday. It narrated the plight of out of work employees and freelancers who had suffered hunger and deprivation during the previous lockdown. “The community of top producers, actors and actresses who then came together to the rescue of daily wage earners of the fraternity… are themselves now not in a position to provide help. The financial losses caused by the previous layoffs have not yet been recovered. Many people are still unemployed today,” FWICE said.
The association warned that unemployment and social distress would rise if another lockdown bore down on citizens. It recommended instead battling the Covid-19 crisis by aggressive testing and vaccination.
On a parallel note, multiplex owners point out that no important film has released in the past one year. The state’s ever tightening restrictions on malls and multiplexes adds to the complexity, as new films cannot be released until cinema halls resume functioning to capacity.
Already tested by the 8.00pm closure deadline and mandatory Covid testing, retailers fear another strict shutdown. Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India (RAI), said, “Formal retail spaces, especially shopping centres, are controlled spaces and have SOPs in place. They have the ability to adhere to hygiene standards and to ensure social distancing as compared to local markets. The government should consider easing restrictions in such places and instead utilise shopping centres to speed up the inoculation drive. Restrictions like night curfew and random rapid antigen tests on mall goers are creating setbacks as the already stressed businesses are getting further interrupted and dampening consumer sentiment.”
Sachin Dhanawade, chief operating officer (COO) of the firm that operates Growel’s 1O1 mall in Kandivali, said, “While it is important to control the second wave of the pandemic, it is also important to ensure that economic activities and livelihood are not impacted. The new requirements of random tests on consumers for entry into malls is causing inconvenience to customers. Mandatory closure at 8.00pm has further hit the ailing retail and malls businesses. On the contrary, longer operational hours will support social distancing as footfalls will spread out.”