Likely shutdown of Delhi markets solicits mixed response from shopkeepers

New Delhi, Nov 17 (IANS) Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s request to the Central government to allow markets to be shuttered for a few days amid the surge in Covid-19 cases in the national capital has received mixed response from the shopkeepers, with some welcoming the decision, while others asserting that it would affect their already wilting business.
Wrath of the third Covid-19 wave in the national capital has not deterred the shoppers even after the festivals. The government’s move to shut down the markets came after huge crowds were seen flocking the city’s popular markets — Sarojini Nagar, Chandni Chowk etc. — with little regard for masks and social distancing.
Sanjay Bhargava, President of Chandni Chowk Vyapar Mandal, told IANS, “Markets should be closed. Wholesale and retail shops should be opened on alternate days. There will be loss of businesses, but health is more important.”
He added, “Street vendors have taken over the pavement area in the markets. People and shopkeepers should think about the grave situation. Roads should be cleaned as people are spitting on them. Tough steps need to be taken to save people’s lives.”
A shopkeeper in Chandni Chowk, Jatin Gandhi, also concurred with the market president’s views and said, “The markets should be closed. We are with the government for this decision.”
Emphasising that businesses will take a massive hit if the shops are closed, another shop owner said that rather than shutting them down, people should follow social distancing norms and those without masks should be challaned.
“We do not want another lockdown. The businesses have just started after a lull. The government should rather increase the testing capacity,” said Amitdeep Yadav, a shop owner.
Devdutt Prajapati, President of the Redi Patri Association in the jam-packed Sarojini Nagar market, said that closing down markets will not solve the problem. “The odd-even scheme can be used to reduce crowding. Awareness campaigns should be carried out with the general public to educate them about the social distancing norms.”
At Old Delhi’s Bhagirath Palace, which inhabits wholesale and retail shops of medicines, Covid-19 norms have gone for a toss. Shopkeeper Subhash Chakraborty told IANS, “The market association has appealed people to be cautious many times. Despite this, many shopkeepers and employees are still negligent. Many are not wearing masks. Shopkeepers have spread their goods on the streets, which leads to jams in the market and social distancing norms gets flouted.”
Devendra Pahuja, another shopkeeper, said, “Given the crowds in the market, there is no way coronavirus norms can be implemented. There is no room left for social distancing even inside the shops.”
On Monday, Delhi recorded 3,797 fresh coronavirus cases and 99 deaths, taking the infection tally in the national capital to over 4.89 lakh and 7,713 total fatalities. The highest single-day spike of 8,593 cases was recorded on November 11.

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