The Surat Municipal Corporation on Saturday asked textile traders to sing Vande Mataram while opening their shops, and the national anthem when closing them, The Indian Express reported. “Singing Vande Mataram while opening the shops and Jana Gana Mana while closing the shops is a war cry to create bonding with the nation and fight the coronavirus pandemic,” Surat Municipal Commissioner BN Pani said.

The directive was part of the guidelines issued on Saturday for reopening the city’s textile trading markets, which had recently emerged as Covid-19 clusters. Besides national songs, yarn dealers, loom workers and other employees have been asked to sing motivational songs such as “haarse corona jeetse Surat [corona will lose, Surat will win]” and, “ek lakshya humara hai corona ko harana hai [we have only one target, we have to defeat corona]”, as part of the “daily drill”.

The traders have also been asked to take the following pledge: “I will follow all the guidelines to contain the pandemic, laid down by the government, and adopt all safety measures and do my bit to prevent spread of the pandemic.”

The guidelines, signed by the town planner of the Surat Municipal Corporation, were issued after meetings were held between the Principal Secretary (Health and Family Welfare) Jayanti Ravi, SMC officials and members of the Federation of Surat Textile Traders Association.

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The textile markets will open in an odd-even manner from Monday between 10 am to 5 pm, the guidelines said. All shops have been asked to install foot-operated wash basins outside their stores, and ensure everyone wears a mask. All common areas and bathrooms require to be sanitised twice daily with sodium hypochlorite solution, it added. CCTV cameras are also to be installed in the entire market place and remain functional at all times.

Surat has had a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases since June 29, with most of them concentrated at the diamond and textile business clusters of the city. There are 170 textile trading markets which house over 65,000 shops and is the hub of Man Made Fibre in the country. Over 600 diamond polishers and over 300 textile traders have tested positive so far, unidentified health officials told the newspaper.

Gujarat has reported 40,941 cases of the coronavirus, including 2032 deaths, so far, according to health ministry figures. Of these, 6,727 cases and 267 deaths have been reported from Surat.