Covid-19: 78% households in NCR start going to their workplaces, says survey

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At 78%, a significantly large proportion of households in the National Capital Region (NCR) had started going to their workplaces by the third week of June, data from a survey by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) showed on Saturday.

The telephonic survey, conducted over June 15-23, capturing the crucial unlock phase, found that a similarly large portion, at 73% of NCR residents reported going outside their house at least once in the past week.

While the usage of face masks was near universal at 95.3% of the 2,526 respondents who reported going outside, the use of all three key precautions including face masks, social distancing and washing hands with soap was a low 32.2%.

The survey, covering 3,466 households across rural and urban districts in NCR, found that small businesses faced a severe existential crisis. “More than half (52 per cent) of them had to suspend their activities in April and May while another 12 per cent simply closed down,” the release said.

“Businesses that stayed open faced considerable supply and demand challenges,” said Sonalde Desai, professor at the NCAER, during a webinar on Saturday, adding that 29% of these businesses had to curtail operations.

With regards to resuming activities post-lockdown, the survey found that a higher proportion of people resumed going to workplaces compared to those that intended to do so during the previous round of the survey conducted in April.

However, the only exception was learning activities in educational institutions. “This may have serious consequences in terms of widening the gap in learning outcomes for children across socio-economic groups as the responsibility of educating children has shifted to households with a few exceptions where the learning process continues to function on a digital platform,” the release said.

As was the case with the previous two rounds of the survey, the latest round also found daily wage labourers to be the worst affected with 75% unable to find work during the lockdown. Within this group, agricultural labourers were relatively less affected than construction work.

On the other hand public sector employees were the “most privileged” the release said, as about 79% of government employees received full salaries during April and May. While only 24% of private sector employees reported no pay cuts, the figure jumped significantly to 64% in June as they resumed going to their workplaces, the survey found.

A substantial 85% of households reported a reduction in incomes compared to the pre-lockdown average, the data showed. “However, a significantly higher proportion of urban households (59 per cent) reported that their income and wages had suffered ‘very much’ compared to 50 per cent among rural households,” the report said.

However, government relief was more targeted at rural households with 62% receiving extra rations versus 54% of urban households. “The much lower numbers for urban households receiving relief may be a cause for concern since the impact of Coronavirus continued to be greater in urban areas, with many of them being classified as high infection ‘red zones’, the relief said.

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Tagged COVID-19, face masks, lockdown, NCAER, Sonalde Desai

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