For a few hours, there was confusion over whether air-conditioned supermarkets in the city would be allowed to function. While chairperson of BBMP’s Standing Committee for Health G. Manjunath Raju stated that from Tuesday, no AC supermarkets would be allowed to function, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa directed that all markets should be allowed to function.
Addressing reporters on Monday, Mr. Raju said he had recommended closure of all air-conditioned supermarkets in the city from Tuesday. He claimed that with the temperatures set at around 20 degrees Celsius, the environment within the supermarkets were conducive for the spread of viruses.
That apart, he claimed that many supermarkets were offering discounts, resulting in many citizens thronging supermarkets to stock up. “Depending on the situation, we will take a call on when it is safe for supermarkets to function again,” he told The Hindu . However, within a few hours, the decision was revoked. A release issued by personal secretary, Standing Committee for Health, stated that directions issued by Mr. Yediyurappa on allowing the AC supermarkets to function would be followed.
With conflicting directions, the BBMP personnel and police were found closing down AC supermarkets in Yelahanka and on Kanakapura Road.
Sources in BBMP maintained that closure of supermarkets would create unnecessary panic among citizens, apart from hoarding and creation of artificial scarcity. “Citizens are already scared to step out. There is also panic buying of staples and commodities such as sanitisers and masks. IF they start closing down supermarkets as well, the situation is likely to get out of hand,” said Sneha Bharadwaj of Malleswaram.
Meanwhile, the BBMP is all set to launch a GIS (geographical information system)-based information system for public health. Through the system, citizens can see where the different cases of COVID-19, cholera, gastroenteritis and other communicable diseases have been reported in the city.
Speaking about the system – GIS Public Health Epidemiological Information Cell, Mr. Raju said the system would be launched on Tuesday. “We will publicise a helpline number, which the citizens can call and give information about the communicable diseases reported,” he said and added that all the government and private hospitals had been geo-tagged.
Training in Town Hall
Several BBMP officials on Monday gathered at Town Hall for a training programme on census. Ironically, just a few days ago, the BBMP had prohibited large gatherings, even going on to restrict number of guests at weddings to just 100. These precautions, BBMP maintained, were necessary to check the spread of COVID-19.
BBMP Commissioner B.H. Anil Kumar admitted that the meet was held in Town Hall and added that further events had been cancelled.