Kochi shops down shutters citing health concerns

Rush resumes: The heavy traffic witnessed at Vyttila Junction in Kochi after lockdown restrictions were partially lifted on Monday.

Rush resumes: The heavy traffic witnessed at Vyttila Junction in Kochi after lockdown restrictions were partially lifted on Monday.   | Photo Credit: H_Vibhu

Police conduct route march in city

All shops in Broadway Market, except those vending food and groceries, downed shutters owing to health concerns on Monday. The move was in view of the fact that they are located too close to one another.

Several shops opened simultaneously in the morning after over a month owing to relaxations in Ernakulam district, which was declared a green zone. “Soon afterwards, police vehicles went around announcing that shops not selling essential commodities must shut down in line with COVID-19 precautions,” said a trader.

K. Lalji, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Ernakulam, said the police were awaiting clarification from the district administration on whether shops in ‘clusters’ like the Broadway Market too could be opened, as relaxations were applicable only to standalone shops. “There are over 500 shops at Broadway with a few thousand employees. Customers will add to crowding, and hence we decided on the move,” he added. On shops functioning at the nearby Menaka Junction, Mr. Lalji said most of them sell mobile phones and spare parts. They also take turns, with each shop opening once in three days as per a fixed schedule.

“This is not the case at Broadway where several shops are located within the same building. Then there is congestion caused by vendors who occupy footpaths. Here, it is pertinent to note that the national lockdown is still in force. Only that there are some relaxations in green zones,” the ACP said.

In the meantime, it is learnt that action will be taken against traders who display spices and other food items well into the footpath, since they stand the risk of getting contaminated.

G. Karthikeyan, president, Kerala Merchants Chamber of Commerce, said traders were shocked at the police ordering closure of shops at Broadway, Market Road, and Jew Street, the very day they were permitted to open them. “We would have waited till May 17 if this was the case. Thousands of employees, goods suppliers, transporters, and customers were caught unawares following the morning closure,” he added.

Heavy traffic

The closure of shops on Broadway, Jew Street, and Market Road on Monday morning is viewed in the backdrop of the heavy traffic on arterial roads and junctions.

This led to a fear that more motorists would swarm the city later in the day, despite buses and autorickshaws staying off the road. A section of taxi cars operated.

The police conducted a route march at Thevara on Monday following warnings that migrant workers might crowd various places or even take out processions demanding transport facilities for them to return to their home States.

The police assured them that they would visit workers’ camps and provide whatever help possible. The route march led by Assistant Commissioner of Police Rajesh T.R. was taken out from the Ernakulam South police station, with announcements in Hindi.

Route marches were also taken out at Thripunithura, Maradu, Cheranalloor, and Ambalamedu as a deterrent against migrant workers converging in bulk at police stations, demanding trains to take them to their States.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 9:04:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/kochi-shops-down-shutters-citing-health-concerns/article31505849.ece

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