Capital begins life after lockdown
- Delhi Police personnel remained on the streets and markets throughout Monday to ensure strict adherence to unlock guidelines, in addition to managing vehicular traffic and maintaining law and order.
Footfall remained low at malls and markets across Delhi on Monday as residents stepped out cautiously after nearly seven weeks of lockdown. The Delhi Metro, which also resumed operations on the day, at 50% capacity, however, saw crowds at some stations.
As part of the unlock process, shops in malls and markets in the Capital have been allowed to open on an odd-even basis from 10am to 8pm from Monday. Government and private offices have also been allowed to function, with up to 50% of their staff.
The popular Chandni Chowk market largely however largely wore a deserted look on Monday, with shopkeepers saying normalcy will return only after all restrictions are lifted.
Rohit Gulati (37), who owns two electronics shops in Chandni Chowk’s Old Lajpat Rai market, said his shops hardly saw any customers.
“People are scared of getting infected. It will take several weeks for the old crowds to return, provided the government does away with the odd-even restriction on business. They should open the market completely,” said Gulati. He said that people mostly abided by the government’s guidelines and the Delhi Police fined those not wearing masks.
Syeda Mahnoor, a 24-year-old who visited the market along with her sister on Monday afternoon, said she was not too anxious during her visit. “We took an auto on our way there and disinfected the seat before entering. We also wore gloves and masks. Besides, we don’t plan to eat and sit anywhere for long. Since we are diligently following SOPs, there is cause for fear,” said Mahnoor, adding that she was stepping out for the first time since the lockdown.
The Metro was the preferred mode of transport for many on the day. Rudra Singh (30), who took the Metro to visit a friend at Connaught Place, said there were very few people in the train. “Distancing was not an issue. The crowd was thinner than usual,” he said.
Connaught Place too was devoid of its usual hustle and bustle on Monday, and in the absence of dine-ins, most visitors left after purchasing necessities.
Ayushi Bhardwaj (23), who visited her workplace in CP after nearly two months, said the market was fairly empty. “Only a few people seem to be strolling around,” she said.
Atul Bhargava, a CP store owner and president of the New Delhi Traders’ Association, said he has sought clarity from the government on the definition of a stand-alone store. “CP has stand-alone stores, yet we have been asked to follow the odd-even rules for opening. This scheme should not be implemented in CP as we have ample space for distancing,” he said.
Liquor stores also reopened on Monday, on an odd-even basis, but most were not overly crowded. Nearly 20 people waited outside a liquor store in SDA market in the evening. “There aren’t many people here. We will have to wait for numbers to pick up,” said Amit Shekhawat, manager of the shop.
While malls seemed deserted in the morning, footfall picked up in the afternoon. “I came with my family to purchase clothes for my son. I have received both doses of the vaccine and my wife just recovered from Covid... Some people are wearing the mask below the nose or taking it off intermittently. Mall authorities are following all protocols,” said a 66-year-old, who asked not to be named.
Most malls have restricted entry and exit to a single gate. A store manager at a popular retail chain, who did not wish to be named, said the response was not as bad as the first lockdown. “The footfall is decent, considering it’s the first day. Bills of up to ₹10,000 are being made,” said the manager.
A senior operations manager at the Vasant Kunj Mall, who did not wish to be named, said people were visiting the mall but the overall response was not great. “As soon as more people get vaccinated, more people will start coming,” he said.
Delhi Police personnel remained on the streets and markets throughout Monday to ensure strict adherence to unlock guidelines, in addition to managing vehicular traffic and maintaining law and order.
Delhi Police chief SN Shrivastava said, “People must remember that the impact of Covid has gone down, but the disease is still out there. We have removed barricades to ease movement of traffic.”