In rush for alcohol, food, residents give social distancing a go-by at Chandigarh’s Sector 8 market
Ever since the lockdown restrictions have been lifted, Chandigarh’s Sector 8 market is drawing huge crowds with people ignoring social distancing and other safety norms, which has local residents worried about Covid-19 transmission.
“Every evening from 6pm onwards there is chaos outside my house and being a senior (citizen) I have no option but to stay indoors all the time. People get food from the markets and drive towards the residential area where they drink alcohol too. We feel unsafe,” says Capt GS Ghuman (retd), vice president, Chandigarh Senior Citizens’ Association, who lives near the market.
Though there is a beat box near the market, police personnel do not appear to be too keen to penalise people for not wearing masks and flouting other safety norms, says RS Gill, president, Sector 8 Resident Welfare Association (RWA). “Many youngsters from other sectors come here and cause law and order problems in Sector 8. With so many people crowding the place in the evening it’s hard to imagine that any sort of lockdown has been imposed in the city.”
On managing the crowds, a traffic police official says, a “Only one-way traffic is allowed on the roads outside the market at around 5:30 pm. To manage traffic congestion we see to it that cars are parked at the designated space and not by the road.
Naveen Singhal, general secretary of the market, insists that shopkeepers are following rules. “It’s not just youngsters, even many families sit in their cars and enjoy a meal and snacks to ensure social distancing rules are maintained. Teams from the police and administration arrive here at 5 pm so most people stick to the rules,” he adds.
Local area councillor Maheshinder Sidhu adds that people need some respite after the lockdown and are flocking to the market more often now than in the past. “Since children are stuck at home, many parents bring them here for an outing. They mostly sit in their vehicles so social distancing is maintained here in a way.”
Sidhu says he will ask the police to remain more vigilant and book those who are not wearing masks.