Retailers Association of India, the collective body representing Organised Retailers in India on Monday appealed to the Government of Tamil Nadu to instruct local authorities in the State to permit regular operations of Optical shops as essential services during the local restrictions imposed in the state. The State Government has now advised District Collectors in certain regions to ensure all retail establishments are shuttered down during the weekends to avoid gathering of people ahead of the upcoming festival seasons in the state even as cases of persons testing positive for the dreaded Covid-19 virus are on the rise once again. The state reported over 1,500 positive cases on 5 Sep. ’21.
“We would like to highlight that the amended definition of medical devices and the Medical Devices (Amendment) Rules, 2020 includes Opticians and Optometrists dealing in Spectacle Frames, Optical Lenses, Contact Lenses, Contact Lenses Solutions, and Low Vision Devices and these have now been placed under medical devices at par with drugs“, said RAI in a statement.
Opticians are servicing society by offering vision correction by replacing people’s spectacles or even providing a pair for first-time users. Considering the Work from Home & Education from home, many citizens including Children & Students have been forced to use spectacles due to prolonged use of computers & devices. Members have informed us that they receive requests from many customers for new as well as for replacement of spectacles, the appeal stated further. RAI appreciates the State Government and the local authorities for the proactive measures taken towards keeping the economic wheels of the country moving by ensuring that the retail activities function smoothly and avoiding a state of panic, especially to provide essential commodities and services to the citizens of the country. We are certain that the Government too appreciates the efforts taken by our member retailers in following the SOPs on preventive measures issued by the Government.
“We, at RAI, believe that there is a need for a coordinated effort at handling the subsequent waves of the pandemic rather than creating diverse restrictions at the local levels, resulting in the shutting down of essential services such as optical shops. Furthermore, all these shops providing essential services are following all SOPs issued by the State Government to ensure the safety of citizens and staff”.
There are an estimated 40,000 Optical shops in India, 90% of which are run by individuals, also known as Mom & Pop stores where the owner is mostly seated in the shop all the time. Organised players in India in terms of most number of physical stores approximately include Lenskart (850+), Titan EyePlus (350+), Specsmakers (230+), Reliance Vision Express (150+) among others including GKB Opticals, Lawrence & Mayo and so on. While prescription lenses cannot be equated to prescription medicines which are sold at authorised Pharmacies, Spectacles are an intrinsic part of day to-day lives of millions of Indians, even as children and adults use their beloved specs for going about their day today chores such as education, work, play and so on.