The scare over Omicron spread has dampened the Sankranti business as people have reduced their outings. (Photo:DC)
VIJAYAWADA: The scare over Omicron spread has dampened the Sankranti business as people have reduced their outings and prefer to save money in case an emergency health situation arose for them. They are restricting festival-related expenses.
Purchase of new clothes, household items, agriculture implements and other needy items is a tradition during Sankranti.
Nearly 100 to 200 Covid-19 new infections used to be register per day in the state’s 13 districts till a few days ago. The number rose to 500 new infections per day in the first week of January. Then it rose to 1,000 to 2,000 cases a day. It rose to above 3,000 cases per day by now.
As many as 28 Omicron cases were reported in AP and the sudden spike in the Coronavirus spread is a big worry to those who had planned to celebrate the three days of the Sankranti festival in a lively atmosphere after two lost years of the Covid crisis.
The Covid-19 infections were only 984 on January 10, which doubled to 1,831 on January 11 and reached 3,205 on Wednesday. This sudden hike is forcing many to curtail the celebrations this time too, which means less of festival shopping too.
Traders were saying that the huge drop in Covid infections had helped improve their business in the past few months, starting from the marriage season followed by Dasara, Diwali, Christmas and New Year. They hoped for good business during the Sankranti festival too, but the fresh rise in the Covid infections dampened their mood and reduced their earnings.
Also, the imposing of night curfew in AP from January 18 came as a hard blow amid the prospect of an abnormal increase in the Coronavirus cases in the coming days.
Explaining the impact of Covid-19 on the businesses, AP textiled federation general secretary Batchu Prasad said that in 2020, the business fell to 30 per cent of the normal and in 2021, some 65 per cent of business was done compared to the turnover in 2019 –ie, before the onset of the Covid season.
He said cloth traders pinned a lot of hopes on Sankranti as people would follow the tradition of purchasing new clothes to wear on Bhogi, Makar Sankranti and Kanuma. These hopes have dimmed by now.
Remembering the bitter experience of Corona ailment and treatment costs, the public are giving priority to health and cancelling the Sankranti shopping. They opt to save money for emergency health purposes.
Farmers Ramakrishna and Venkateswarlu said the large increase in Covid infections has become a major worry to them and they would curtail expenses and reduce shopping this time.