Some shopkeepers have re-opened their shops in Diyarbakır (Amed), where the Covid-19 cases are now at a low level. However, many are not hopeful that the new “normalisation” policy can recover the money they have lost in the last year.
While they welcome the lifting of bans, most places are still empty. “People have no money to buy anything”, explained a shopkeeper to the Mesopotamia News Agency.
Many shops did not open
Most of the shopkeepers, who shut down their workplaces in the past six months, did not re-open their shops despite the lifting of lockdon. Rental and sale ads are everywhere and dusty tables with chairs can be observed in front of cafes and restaurants.
Owners of a coffee house said they had to let go of their employees since they could not pay their salaries. Now only the owners work there.
There are some crowds in the city centres of the Yenişehir and Sur districts, but the same cannot be said for other districts. The shop owners are excited about re-opening their shops after 10 months and welcoming their customers. Since they are busy, it was not easy for the MA reporters to talk to them.
Rent unpaid for four months
A shopkeeper on Art Street said he has just opened his shop for the first time in ten months. He pays 7,000 Turkish lira in rent and employs four people.
“I earned only 60 lira yesterday and I gave it to the employees”, he said. Due to high bills, he turned off the refrigerator’s electricity in the shop.
On the same day, a coffee shop owner in the Ofis district said he had made only 20 lira for a day’s work. “I could not pay my rent for four months”, he added.
‘Two thousand lira loss each month’
Murat Güneş, who runs the Börek Hall on Rızvanağa Street, said that he has at least started making money since the normalisation process. During the lockdown he paid for rent and his employees’ salaries by using his savings.
“Very little money was left for me and I lost 2,000 lira in November, December and January”.
‘Not only the disease but also the economy kills people’
Stating that shopkeepers around the Ofis district were very badly affected by the bans, Güneş said: “People were crying, and many of them run cafes or restaurants. At least seven or eight employees were unemployed in these shops. Four employees were working for me. They had nothing but their daily income. They were buying bread for their children with that money, just bread, nothing more, but they could not do that during the lockdown”.
He went on to criticise the crowded meetings and congresses organised by the political parties despite lockdown. “It was upsetting for me. If those who hold power in their hands organise these crowded meetings despite the virus, then what do they expect from ordinary people?” he asked.
‘I have not earned a single penny in the last two days’
Mehmet Salih Diril sells antiques in the Hasan Pasha Inn in Sur.
“We have not been through such a difficult process for years”, he said. “We have been closed for the last six months”.
Since his income is dependant on the number of tourists visiting the city his situation is even worse than the other shopkeepers. He asked what he can do, considering his old age. “I do not know what I am going to do. I have lost hope”.