Social distancing norms go for a toss in Delhi markets

Amid massive spurt in Covid-19 cases in the national capital, people and traders can be seen openly flouting social distancing norms in the market area.

Crowded markets in Delhi are made up of narrow and congested lanes, which makes it hard for shopkeepers and traders to adhere to social distancing norms.

The cramped structure of Gaffar Market in Karol Bagh with its plethora of electronic shops is a place where social distancing is a must but maintaining a minimum distance of six feet is difficult.

This comes as a warning at a time the number of Covid-19 cases are inching towards the 50,000 mark. Delhi is expected to report over 5.5 lakh cases by the end of July. This, along with an over-strained healthcare infrastructure, will prove to be a hurdle in curbing the spread of disease.

Ravi Solanki, Associate Member of Gaffar Market, told IANS that people coming to the markets are openly flouting the norms by not wearing masks and crowding the space.

“We are trying to protect ourselves by hanging a protective screen outside the shops. The market is crowded which makes it harder for us to stop each and every customer from venturing out carelessly,” Solanki rued.

Vice President of the Market, Hunny Handa asserted that since the customers cannot be controlled, guards have been deployed to apprise them about wearing masks and maintaining distance.

“We have directed shopkeepers not to attend to anyone who does not wear a mask, as a way to spread the message that wearing it is important,” he said.

Not only the Gaffar Market, Mori Gate, which has Asia’s largest motor market, is also witnessing the same fate pursuant to re-opening of shops over ten days ago.

Speaking to IANS, Chandra Bhushan Gupta, Chairperson of Bhola Ram Market in Mori Gate, said that he fears contracting the deadly virus as at least 800 people are always present in the cramped market, hence crowing it.

“Social distancing norms have gone for a toss and no one wears masks. Due to the crowding and fear for their life, some people have even shut up their shops. We have complained to Delhi Lt Gov Anil Baijal regarding this but no action has been taken so far,” said Gupta.

He added that if anything happens, the motor market will be sealed and businesses will face the wrath. “The Station House Officer of the area has time and again given warning but no one pays heed.”

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had, last month, warned that if social distancing norms are not maintained by a shopkeeper, his or her shop will be closed and action will be taken.

Recently, the Confederation of All India Traders contended that adopting an odd-even scheme to open shops or restrict the number of days a market operates would be considered. It will, however, depend upon the trajectory and severity of the disease in the city, they said.