Markets emerge as a concern ahead of festival, marriage season

BBMP expected to issue guidelines this week to regulate crowds at markets

Updated - August 18, 2021 07:42 am IST

Published - August 17, 2021 11:53 pm IST - Bengaluru

Crowding at markets and commercial hubs have emerged as a cause of concern amidst the ongoing festival and marriage season in the month of Shravana.

Not only K.R. Market, the eve of festivals see crowding at several smaller markets across the city. Areas like Malleswaram and Gandhi Bazaar also see huge rush and the season also lead to crowds at clothing hubs like the Old Pete Area and Commercial Street. “Unless managed properly, this can lead to spread in virus, which is presently under check,” said a senior civic official.

While the district administration has issued guidelines banning entry of devotees at temples on weekends and government holidays, the civic body will likely regulate crowds at markets too, issuing a new set of guidelines later this week. “We will issue guidelines for markets by Thursday,” said D. Randeep, Special Commissioner, Health, BBMP.

At a recent meeting chaired by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, it was decided that stringent restrictions, including weekend lockdowns, will be imposed in districts with case positivity rate more than 2%. It is less than 0.7% in the city this week. “Current projections predict a third wave of COVID-19 to hit the city in September. So, managing the ongoing festival season is key in avoiding a third wave and another lockdown,” a senior civic official said.

However, regulating crowds at markets and commercial hubs is not an easy task. “None of these markets have defined entry and exit points. Regulating crowds in an orderly fashion, ensuring social distancing is almost impossible. The exercise needs enormous force, but even then it is tough,” said a senior police official. “During the lockdown last year, only retailers were allowed into K.R. Market and many smaller markets were opened across the city. That will be a better approach,” he added.

Meanwhile, traders at other commercial hubs oppose any more restrictions. “Business is already down, less than 50% of the usual. There are no crowds like every year in the Old Pete area and other hubs. We are following COVID-19 Appropriate Behaviour and are ensuring our staff are vaccinated. Any more restrictions will hit us hard,” said trader Sajjan Raj Mehta of the Old Pete Area.

Meanwhile, city Police Commissioner Kamal Pant extended prohibitory orders till August 30 midnight as per the guidelines of the State Disaster Management Authority. The order prohibits assembly of more than four people in public places. However bus stand, metro, railway station, and airport have been exempted.

Those violating the orders will be punished under the Disaster Management Act, and Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act.

‘Demand for second dose increasing’

Nearly 70% of the eligible population in the city has been vaccinated, having received at least one dose, against COVID-19, said Gaurav Gupta, BBMP chief commissioner.

Speaking to reporters here on Tuesday, he said the demand for the second dose of the vaccination has been increasing steadily over the past three to four weeks. He said that nearly 40% of vaccinations administered by the BBMP have been for the second dose.

“We have the capacity to administer one lakh doses every day. The allocation of vaccine doses to BBMP is from the State government. Given the demand for vaccines, we have sought 70,000 to 75,000 doses,” he said.

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