Health Ministry issues norms to curb virus spread via markets

A health worker conducts COVID-19 test at the Manish Market in Mumbai. File   | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

Cautioning that shop-owners, employees and visitors living in containment zones shall not be allowed entry into marketplaces the Union Health Ministry, on Monday, released its SOP on “preventive measures in markets to contain spread of COVID-19”. These include levying of fines/penalties on defaulters for not wearing mask/face cover, or for not following physical distancing norms, exploring option of allowing markets/shops to open on alternate days and possible incentive/ discounts for those who shop during non-peak hours.

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The Ministry has advised closure of markets in case a larger number of cases were reported with epidemiological links with the market by the administration.

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It added that there has to be effective crowd management in specific cases of local metro rail stoppages at stations directly feeding into markets and that provision for online booking of groceries/ items and delivery at doorstep must be encouraged, where the staff for home deliveries to be screened thermally by the vendors prior to allowing home deliveries.

The SOP further added that vehicles may only be allowed to be parked in assigned parking lots and that proper crowd management in the parking lots and outside the premises – duly following physical distancing norms to be ensured.

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“CCTV monitoring may be considered to detect overcrowding and staggered time of opening shops/utilities should be explored to allow them to remain open for longer duration,” noted the SOP.

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The Ministry has said marketplaces are visited by a large number of people for their daily needs, shopping, entertainment, and food. “Amid COVID pandemic, with gradual opening of economic activities, markets are witnessing high footfalls. Such large gatherings, without observance of COVID-19 appropriate behaviour have the potential to spread the disease,” it warned.

It noted that there should be separate entry and exit, if feasible, with unidirectional flow of visitors.

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“Roads within the marketplaces may be made vehicle free (including cycle/ electricRickshaws) and secured only for pedestrians / bicycles as far as possible and strict penal action against illegal parking on market roads may be taken by law enforcing authorities,” said the SOP.

Detailing the precautions for the vulnerable population, the SOP states that persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years are advised to stay at home, except for essential and health purposes. Market Owners Associations shall be advised accordingly.

It adds that employees who are at higher risk i.e. older employees, pregnant employees and employees who have underlying medical conditions must take extra precautions. The Market Associations shall be advised that such persons should not be exposed to any front-line work requiring direct contact with the public.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 10:08:47 AM |

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