‘Prez reluctant to lockdown country because of the poor’

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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa could lock down the country within seconds, but he would not do so out of his concern for millions of people who had not contracted COVID-19 and were eking out a living on a daily basis, Minister of Trade, Bandula Gunawardane said yesterday following an inspection tour of the Pettah wholesale markets.

“Some people ask us to lock down the country. There are millions of people who have not contracted COVID-19. We have to think of them as well,” he said.

Commenting on shop owners closing down business operations in over 30 towns across the country due to the spread of COVID-19, the Minister said that even if all shops around the country were closed, the government would ensure that public needs were met.

Traders’ associations of another 15 towns were to suspend operations from yesterday.

“Even if all retail shops are closed, we will keep Sathosa open. However, we won’t forcibly open any private shops that have been closed down,” the Trade Minister said.

Meanwhile, the Association of Medica Specialists President Dr. Lakkumar Fernando said that the decision to close shops voluntarily was a positive move given that COVID was spreading rapidly.

“The traders have taken this step realising that there is no other way to stop people coming into towns. I think this is a good example of civic-minded people taking action to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he said. (RK)


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