Sweet shops in West Bengal will be allowed to remain open for four hours a day amid the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, the state government said on Monday. Across India, only shops selling essentials like food and medicines are being allowed to operate.

In a notice issued on Monday, the state government clarified that sweet shops will be allowed to stay open from 12 pm to 4 pm and will process only take away orders. The sweet shops will also operate with minimum staff strength, the order added.

The state government’s order came after sweet makers wrote to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee last week, urging her to let them open their shops. They had contended that thousands of litres of milk was going waste due to the shutting down of their businesses and had said that sweets must be included in the category of essentials in Bengal.

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After Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown last week, the Ministry of Home Affairs had released a list of services that will be exempted during that period. Shops selling vegetables, fruits, dairy products, groceries and medicines had been allowed to remain open, and people were ensured that there will be no shortage of essentials. Online delivery of groceries was also allowed.

So far, West Bengal has 22 cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Two people have died of the highly-contagious disease in the state. Across India, more than 1,200 cases of Covid-19 have been reported and there have been 32 deaths. On Monday, India reported its sharpest spike in the number of the coronavirus cases as 227 people tested positive in 24 hours.