20 arrested for flouting physical distancing norms at market

The Maradu police arrested 20 persons in the early hours of Saturday from the Champakkara wholesale fish market on the charge of flouting physical distancing and face mask norms which are being strictly implemented to prevent community spread of COVID-19.

The arrests took place during the morning rush hour at the market. Senior police officers along with Health officials and the Kochi Corporation Secretary led the inspections on market operations following complaints regarding the danger posed by overcrowding. The arrested were later released on bail, police sources said.

A wholesale dealer at the market said people had been violating physical distancing norms or entering the premises without wearing masks during business hours.

The Champakkara fish market has been the focus of attention of the Health authorities owing to the absence of crowd control during peak hours.

Corporation health standing committee chairperson Pratibha Ansari said several rounds of warning had been issued after it was found that physical distancing norms were being grossly flouted at the market.

A fish broker said steps were being taken to control crowd. However, with some other markets being closed, there has been an increase in rush at Champakkara where business is done between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m.

He added that the market hours would be restricted to around three hours, and that arrangements would be made to ensure that people wore masks and practised physical distancing without fail.

Meeting today

Meanwhile, market stakeholders, including workers, retailers, wholesalers, and brokers are meeting here on Sunday to decide the future course of action as the police and corporation Health officials have hinted that the market may be closed down if rules were not followed.

The stakeholders want business hours to be brought down to around three, besides allowing entry to only 50 persons at a time and giving each batch 30 minutes to complete transactions.

Ms. Ansari said violation of the COVID-19 protocol had been noticed in most markets within the corporation area, and that the police and Health officials had been trying hard to ensure that community spread did not happen through crowded markets.

The flow of fish buyers to the Champakkara market is also due to the closure of the Ernakulam main market and the Chellanam fishing harbour after two persons who had visited the harbour tested positive for COVID-19.

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2020 10:16:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/20-arrested-for-flouting-physical-distancing-norms-at-market/article31992178.ece

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