This study aims at exploring the livelihood and social implications of the government responsive measures posed to contain COVID-19 on gulït seller women in Dässé town, Amhara region of Ethiopia. It further scrutinizes the basic reasons why informal businesses especially women petty traders were adversely impacted because of the COVID-19 global pandemic and its preventive measures. This qualitative study was conducted from mid-April to mid-June 2020 among Robït gulït Sellers’ women and about 40 informants who were selected purposively and conveniently participated in this study. Observation and interviews were employed to collect data. Data were analyzed by using thematic analysis techniques. The findings of the study show that the town government has been very particular in responding to the pandemic. However, the measures that have already been taken by local authorities, especially the market closure inadvertently affected gulït sellers’ livelihood, as it disturbed their business operations and plunging them into poverty. The vulnerable nature of gulït sellers’ business for sudden shocks coupled with the delayed notice of the closure, income and revenue loss of most other businesses, demand reduction and illegal food price hiking has exacerbated the disproportionate livelihood effects of the preventive measures. Moreover, the income decline beyond the livelihood implications has also affected the sociocultural interactions of gulït sellers among themselves and with the wider society as it has made them incapable to fulfill social obligations as they have always done. The study concludes that despite, the preventive measures were choiceless, it has brought immense livelihood and social implications for gulït sellers as it disturbed their daily earning incomes, which is the only means of their livelihood.
Keywords: COVID-19, market closure, precarious income, disproportionate effect.