Social distancing goes for a toss in Sadar Bazar

All efforts to enforce social distancing guidelines in the run-up to Deepavali are falling flat in Delhi’s Sadar Bazar area, India’s biggest wholesale market for household items. Visitors and shop owners have resolutely refused to adhere to any safety protocols, lament police.

Delhi Police had prepared a crowd management plan from October 16 to November 16 for the festive season, especially for the Sadar Bazar area that has around 40,000 shops and notches up a daily footfall of around 1,00,000.

The measures include appeals through public address systems installed at 40 locations to maintain distance and wear masks.

Anto Alphonse, DCP (North), said extra personnel have been deployed in the area. “A team of policemen roam the market and fine visitors for not wearing masks or not following social distancing norms. To decongest the lanes and enable smooth pedestrian movement, we have earmarked dedicated parking areas for shop owners, their employees and shoppers,” he said.

“We held a meeting with around 30 market associations and discussed measures such as thermal screening and distribution of hand sanitisers besides putting up posters related to COVID-19 guidelines,” said Mr. Alphonse.

The elaborate efforts, however, aren’t paying off.

‘Time to recoup losses’

Anurag Agarwal, a dry fruits wholesaler, said crowds are unavoidable during festive season. “Our sales have dropped 50% from last year. After acute losses due to lockdown, the time has come to recoup some of those losses,” he said.

Mr. Agarwal, however, claimed most shops ensure that customers enter wearing masks and sanitise their hands. Rakesh Gupta, another shop owner, said some listen, most don’t. “I got my entire staff of six tested for COVID-19 as we are exposed to scores of visitors coming from various parts of Delhi and other States,” he said.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2020 7:38:04 PM |

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