Trading at the economic centres commenced at 4.00 a.m. for wholesale trading only despite the quarantine curfew being in effect. The decision to open these economic centres was taken amidst the quarantine curfew, with the aim of providing essential food items to the public without any shortages.
The trade unions said despite the large quantities of vegetables arriving at the economic centres on Thursday, there was a drop in the number of traders visiting these centres.
Meanwhile, responding to media queries on Thursday during a media briefing at the Defence Ministry regarding the vendors on the streets despite the quarantine curfew, Defence Secretary Gen. Kamal Gunaratne (Rtd), said that the authorities are lenient on such vendors as they are daily wage earners. He said that while salaried employees get paid despite the quarantine curfew being in effect, daily wage earners are the most affected. Therefore, he said that the authorities are lenient on them and allow them as they need to earn a living in order to feed their families.
“On the part of those enforcing the law it is an issue that people are still on the streets despite the quarantine curfew. But, from the point of view of these daily wage earners, there are hundreds of thousands of families who depend on daily wages to feed and maintain their families. Therefore, if we strictly enforce the laws and prevent them from getting out of their homes, how will they feed their families and how much can the government do to help them? During the previous lockdown the government provided these families an allowance of Rs. 5000 and a food parcel valued at Rs. 10,000. But, how long can the government do this? Therefore, we have to allow some leniency for them as while we need to enforce the laws, we must also realise their difficulties,” the Defence Secretary said.