People throng shopping areas as govt. lifts some restrictions

Long queues seen outside confectionery, electronics stores

People spilled out on to the city streets in droves on Monday as restrictions were eased on the first day of the third phase of the nationwide lockdown.

Government offices and private offices can now open with reduced strength, and private vehicles are permitted to ply. Several standalone shops in residential areas, apart from those selling essentials, also opened their shutters, and queues were seen outside hardware and electronic stores.

Less checking

Domestic helps and self-employed workers such as plumbers, electricians and mechanics also got back to work. Though there were police barricades across the city, checking was not as stringent.

Sandeep Kapoor, a south Delhi resident, said he and his wife drove to a store to buy essentials around 9.30 a.m., “after days of finding empty streets, it no longer looked like a lockdown... there were plenty of vehicles and people on the road”.

A senior bureaucrat, who commuted to their central Delhi office on Monday, however, said he did not notice “much difference” between lockdown 2.0 and now. “The streets are as empty as they were last week,” he said.

Many stores, including confectionery and electronics shops in west Delhi’s Rajouri Garden and Kirti Nagar also saw large crowds.

K.K. Gupta, 61, who runs an apparel shop in Bali Nagar with his son, said he had to open the shop to cover his rent and earn a living for his family. “The landlord let go of the rent for April but he would not have done it for May. How will I manage without opening the shop?” he said, adding that he is taking all precautions in wake of the pandemic.

“Only three people are allowed inside the shop at one time. All must wear masks, and hand sanitiser has been kept to ensure people use it before entering,” he said.

Even though guidelines permit cigarette shops to function, a south Delhi shopowner said the police had asked him to shut his kiosk and await “further orders”.

In Lajpat Nagar, several cycle rickshaws were seen ferrying people between the main road and the colony. They were, however, quickly stopped by the police as cycle rickshaws are not permitted to ply yet. “I have not earned anything for over a month. When there are customers, why not allow us to work? We have suffered enough already,” said Kishen a cycle-rickshaw driver.

Despite many taking advantage of fewer curbs, several people said they would not allow domestic help to resume work immediately as they wanted to “remain cautious”.

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Printable version | Jun 7, 2020 9:17:43 AM |

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