Thrissur: The Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi has decided to play hardball by announcing its decision to violate the state government's COVID-induced restrictions and open all shops and establishments in the state from August 9.
The decision was made at the KVVES state secretariat meeting convened in Thrissur on Wednesday. The trade organisation has claimed that it has no choice but to challenge the government's Test Positivity Rate-based restrictions.
KVVES has decided to launch a sit-in before the state secretariat from August 2 to 6 to force the government to consider its demands of opening up "all shops on all days".
"Keeping the shops shut has not improved the Covid situation in the state," said P Ramachandran, KVVES, state committee member. He added that Samithi's president T Nasaruddin has also planned to stage a hunger strike if the government did not budge.
"We hear of merchants' suicides regularly, the situation is grim, we cannot go on with these restrictions. We don't have a choice other than opening up all the shops."
KVVES office-bearers have claimed that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had hinted about easing more restrictions after Bakrid, for which three days of exemption were given.
"However, nothing has happened since then and with Onam coming up shops must be allowed to function without restrictions," Ramachandran told Onmanorama.
"Onam is coming up and with the restrictions in place, merchants are unable to bring good from outside. The situation cannot continue," said Ramachandran.
The chief minister has reiterated the government's decision to continue the restrictions. Though Vijayan said the reopening of textile shops will be considered, demanding only vaccinated staff to work has not gone down well with the merchants.