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Restrictions eased in Old Muttrah, shops still shut

14 Jun 2020

After two and half months of health isolation, restrictions in the iconic Old Muttrah have been eased since Sunday. The area saw a flutter of excitement and activity on Sunday as shopkeepers rushed to open their doors to customers.

However, soon most of them were told that only services like coffee shops, restaurants and pharmacies were allowed to open while the rest have yet to await orders. 

While restrictions in Old Muttrah have been eased, the isolation of Hamriya and Wadi Kabir Industrial Area still continue. 

With the lifting of the lockdown, the surrounding areas of Muscat’s most iconic and busiest shopping spot – Old Muttrah Souq – saw merchants rush out with a hope of resuming business.  

Many shop owners lined up in front of their shops while some waited anxiously on Muttrah Souq Road assuming that shops could reopen. A few textile shops also drew up their shutters but soon a municipality patrolling team called on them and stated that all shops have to remain shut until further notice. 

Mohammed Nabeel, owner of a readymade garments business, said, “I came in the morning with hope but the ROP stopped us from opening our shops. We had heard the announcement about the reopening of Muttrah, however, we were aware that Muttrah Souq wouldn’t be opened so soon. The past couple of months were very difficult for us. We hope that that authorities will allow us to resume our business.” 

Nimr Chand, who works in a small construction company and lives nearby the Muttrah Souq, said, “Definitely, it is a good feeling to move around freely after months of strict lockdown. Our sponsor took care of our daily needs and expenses. Hopefully with the lifting of the lockdown we may get some work again.” 

Prakash, a perfume and garment shop owner, said, “Normally, we interact with scores of customers everyday, but suddenly everything came to a halt. The lockdown was a very difficult period for us. We hope to start our business soon but we are not sure how things will be now.” 

Dawood, a mobile shop owner, said, “Those who had opened their shops  on Sunday unknowingly would be forgiven but if any shops open on Monday they would attract a fine of RO500.” He too was unsure of the scope of his business once shops in Old Muttrah are permitted to reopen.


(Photo and text – Syed Fasiuddin)

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