Gone with the wind: Telangana, Andhra locals ignore lockdown over Covid-19
Despite many restriction, many people in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh threw caution to the winds and thronged shops and markets.Updated: Mar 23, 2020 16:49 IST
Sunday’s nation-wide janta curfew to break the chain of transmission of coronavirus may have been a success, but the nine-day lockdown announced by the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments seemed to have had no impact on the people in the two states.
With both the state governments exempting milk booths, petrol pumps, provision stores and vegetable markets from the lockdown to ensure smooth supply of essential commodities, people thronged the markets in hundreds since morning, completely ignoring restrictions imposed by the authorities.
While the Telangana government said not more than one person from every family should come out to buy essential commodities and restricted the maximum number of people at one place to five, the Andhra Pradesh government ruled that not more than 10 people should assemble at any store.
Both the governments banned all passenger vehicles including buses, auto rickshaws and private vehicles on the roads to check the spread of coronavirus.
But on the ground, the situation was completely different. In Hyderabad, for example, the vegetable markets, supermarkets and other small and medium provision stores witnessed a mad rush. At Erragadda Rythu Bazar (farmers’ market), there were panic buying as a huge crowd showed up buy vegetables and fruits.
A popular supermarket on Raj Bhavan Road at Somajiguda was so packed with the customers that the staff at the counters had a tough time controlling them. All the racks emptied within a couple of hours and the customers were found arguing with the supermarket staff for not storing enough commodities.
Shoppers simple ignored social distancing as they thronged the markets. However, the supermarket authorities allowed the customers inside only after making them wash their hands with sanitiser. Many of them wore masks as a precautionary measure.
There was also heavy traffic of cars and two-wheelers on several roads. Though autorickshaws have been banned, some autos were seen on the roads on the pretext of carrying essential commodities.
The blatant disregard of restrictions forced the Telangana government to announce stricter controls.
Chief secretary Somesh Kumar and director general of police M Mahender Reddy held an emergency press conference and announced severe restrictions from Monday afternoon.
The chief secretary announced that the petrol bunks, gas stations, markets and provision stores would be kept open only during morning hours and would be strictly closed from 7 pm to 6 am during the lockdown period till March 31. He said people would be allowed to buy essentials from their nearest store during day time.
The DGP said the officials would seize private vehicles if lockdown restrictions are violated. One person can go on bike to the nearest store for buying grocery. If going on long distance without justification, the vehicle will be seized and the person would be booked under relevant sections of Indian Penal Code. Only two persons would be allowed to travel in a car.
Similar incidents of violation of lockdown restrictions were reported from Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Guntur and Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh.
Minister for information Perni Nani announced that stringent action would be taken against those who violated the restrictions. He assured that there was no need for panic buying and the government would ensure sufficient supply of essential commodities in their respective localities.
Telangana has 26 positive cases of coronavirus while Andhra Pradesh has 5.