ISLAMABAD-Traders’ representatives from different cities of the country have held protest rally in federal capital and sought a relief package for the traders affected by the coronavirus.

Traders’ representatives started rally ‘Horn Bajao Hukamran Jagao’ from Zeropoint to the Sareena Hotel on Saturday. Protesters came from twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, Lahore, Peshawar and others. They blew horns as protest.

They demanded of the government to increase the timing of their business hours and reduce the weekly holidays to one from two. They were of the view that business activities are affected due to the restricted timings of businesses and two holidays in a week.

Traders have also demanded that furniture markets, restaurants and hotels should also be allowed to open under existing SOPs. They have also sought immediate a relief package for the traders affected by the coronavirus.

Earlier, police has not allowed the protestors to hold the rally in front of Prime Minister House. However, later, both sides agreed to hold the rally on Kashmir highway, near Sareena Hotel.

Ajmal Baloch, president of All Pakistan Trade Unions, said that administration has not allowed to enter the traders from Sindh and Balochistan into Islamabad for peaceful protest.

He set 31st July deadline for the government to address the issues of traders. He threatened that traders could adopt any option if government does not meet the demands of traders.

Baloch said that government had allowed the public transport. However, it is not allowing to open marriage halls and marquees, which has better facilities to follow SOPs. He said that restricted business hours and two holidays in a week have ruined the businesses in the country.

He demanded that government should open restaurants, hotels marriage halls and marquees, which are closed from last four months due to the Covid-19. He said that thousands of people are jobless due to the closure of aforementioned businesses.

Others leaders, who belong to different professions, have said that their business activities were on the verge of collapse due to long lockdown amid Covid-19. They said that to combat the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, restaurants, marquees and wedding halls in Islamabad were closed in the 2nd week of March 2020 on a short notice due to which thousands of workers have lost their jobs while these businesses were now facing extreme financial crisis.

They said that government should allow restaurants, marquees and wedding halls to pay their utility bills in 3-4 monthly instalments.

Traders leaders stressed that government should announce a relief package for these businesses so that they could revive their business activity. They said that these businesses were much safer as they have lot of space and could maintain social distancing.

The owners of these businesses were ready to take all precautionary measures for the safety of their customers and workers, therefore, they urged that government should give them a date for reopening so that they could start future bookings.