Shillong: Amid the COVID-19 situation slightly improving in Meghalaya, residents of the capital Shillong are now urging the state government to ease the lockdown restrictions so that the “economy gets back to normal”.

East Khasi Hills district, of which Shillong is a part, has been under lockdown for several weeks now to check the spread of infection amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kailash Varma, the owner of the popular Delhi Mistan Bhandar, said that it is a big loss for everybody. “In spite of that, we have not cut down on the salaries of our staff. We have somehow managed by paying from our pockets. We did not fire anybody. Some had left on their own fearing the virus,” said Varma.

He felt that it was now time for the government to slowly start getting the businesses back on track by easing the lockdown imposed in the district.

“Only lockdown is not a solution. With cases reducing, it is time to get back to normal,” Varma added.

For Varma, there was no easing down on the electricity bill either. Since milk products are stored, so Delhi Mistan Bhandar had to keep its cold storages running all the time.

Meanwhile, social worker Susuki Pariat said that most of the people whom they met while going out to distribute dry rations are complaining about their financial situation. “How will the common man survive if the lockdown is extended? People will die not only of COVID but of hunger as well,” said Pariat.

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The state government had recently decided to extend the lockdown in East Khasi Hills district till June 7, but with a few relaxations.

It had allowed SBI’s main branch at Laitumkhrah and Secretariat branch to function with limited staff only to finish government businesses or transactions. All other banks were permitted to open on May 31 and June 1 with limited staff for urgent transactions and close by 4 pm.

Banker Urmila Rai, however, said that this year she was prepared. “This year is not so challenging as compared to last year. Last year, we weren’t prepared but this time, we are,” she added.

Papiya Paul, another banker working at Bandhan Bank, said that the lockdown should be extended but with relaxations so that people don’t get badly affected. “For the poor people it is hard to survive. With tourism activities closing down, it affects the overall economy of the state,” she added.

As such, the government can issue a standard operating procedure (SOP) for carrying out tourism activities in the state so that the economy can be revived.

On Tuesday, the state recorded 14 COVID-19 related fatalities, which raised the death toll to 592, while 467 new cases raised the tally to 36,065, a senior official said.

At least 769 more people had recuperated from the infection, taking the total number of recoveries to 28,867.

A day earlier too, Meghalaya reported more COVID-19 recoveries than fresh cases as 977 patients recuperated from the disease while 408 new infections were recorded.

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