After HC warning, markets in Delhi say onus also on shoppers to be responsible
- Traders’ associations said that though they have adopted different measures to control crowding and ensure social distancing, more cooperation was needed from shoppers, especially youngsters, who are “often spotted without masks”.
Within two weeks of the easing of lockdown restrictions and reopening of markets, Covid-appropriate behaviour has gone for a toss in several areas, as crowds throng public spaces in the national capital.
Taking cognisance of images of crowded marketplaces in the city, the Delhi high court on Friday called for stricter restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus. It warned that this may “hasten” the expected third wave, adding, “Gold help us if all that happens!”
Traders’ associations said that though they have adopted different measures to control crowding and ensure social distancing, more cooperation was needed from shoppers, especially youngsters, who are “often spotted without masks”.
Ashok Randhawa, president of the Sarojini Nagar Mini Market Traders’ Association, said that the market appointed 28 volunteers on Friday for additional monitoring and enforcement of protocols. “We have also created physical distancing markers outside all shops and are also providing masks to visitors if they don’t have one... We are aware that if the crowd increases, there is a possibility that the market might be sealed. This is against our interests at a time when we are barely making a living,” said Randhawa.
Sanjay Bhargava, president, Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal, said that roadside encroachments were also making social distancing hard. “All encroachments need to be removed so that there is adequate space for movement... Many hawkers and rickshaw drivers are lax when it comes to masking. The authorities are not doing anything about it. Market associations are not enforcing agencies and can only do so much,” said Bhargava. He also said that it was crucial for the Metro to open all gates since serpentine queues were being witnessed outside.
Sanjeev Mehra, president of Khan Market Traders’ association, called for stricter government monitoring. “Recently, we asked a woman to enter the shop after wearing the mask but she hit the owner instead. The government has to come down heavily on such people... We can’t do much,” said Mehra.
Mall authorities contended that their facilities were safer. Vineet Parashar, head of operations, V3S mall and V3S East Center Mall, East Delhi, said, “So far, our mall has not seen a lot of footfall. People are yet to return but we are making periodic announcements. In addition to that, if anyone is found to be negligent, our staff will remind them.”
An official from a South Delhi-based mall, who did not wish to be named, said that both staff and visitors need to adhere to Covid protocols.
“If there is an issue or a customer is unruly, our security steps in but since reopening, most people are abiding by rules,” said the spokesperson.
Sucheta Sharma, who visited DLF Promenade in Vasant Kunj this week, said that she wanted a breather after months of staying cooped in. “So far, the crowd doesn’t seem a lot and SOPs are also being followed,” she said.
A 70-year-old woman, who came to mall along with family, said that she was a sceptical about going out.
“There was a little fear but we are wearing masks and following the other norms,” said the woman, who did not wish to be named.