India reported more than 2.51 lakh (2,51,209) new coronavirus cases and 627 deaths in the last 24 hours, ending at 9 am on Friday. With 627 deaths and 3,47,443 recoveries, active cases declined to 21.05 lakh (21,05,611). The daily positivity rate is now at 15.88 percent.
On day 1 of the odd-even restrictions being lifted at markets, shopkeepers were seen directing customers to wear masks properly and maintain social distancing while shops sported posters on following Covid-appropriate behaviour. The district administrations have also restarted random testing at Metro stations and public places.
However, the footfall on Friday at usually busy markets at Sarojini Nagar, Lajpat Nagar and local residential markets were thin.
“We are thankful that the government lifted the odd-even curbs. We are cautious and strictly adhere to protocol and regulations implemented by the DDMA and our staff are also directing the customers to follow suit. We cannot afford another lockdown and see our shops sealed again,” said Manish, who works at OldTree bag shop in Sarojini Nagar market.
A shopkeeper, selling winter clothes, added, “Authorities are maintaining strict vigil and have warned us that they will seal the shop if it is found violating protocol. But the onus of making the public conform to rules should not be on us since it is our livelihood that is getting affected.”
Shopkeepers and traders who have been facing severe losses have slashed rates of articles, from warm woollen clothes to footwear.
Dhruv Mahajan, the owner of Paul shoes, said, “From Christmas, our shop opened for only nine days and business has been severely affected. Now it will take about six months for us to recuperate, and new stock will also come by only June or July.”
Coats, sweaters and footwear that usually cost between Rs 300 and 500 were on sale for Rs 20 to Rs 100 at Sarojini and Lajpat. “Winter is ongoing and our stock is just lying in the godown, untouched. We have to sell them off before another lockdown comes,” said another shopkeeper.
At Lajpat Nagar, several shoppers were seen flouting social distancing norms. “Lifting odd-even and the weekend curfew has been a great relief. People should also think about us and follow the rules since we cannot force them to follow them. All of us have received both doses of vaccine and are following rules. Police and authorities should bolster enforcement as crowds will increase with the wedding season,” said Nizam who sells clothes at Lajpat Nagar market.
Meanwhile, malls such as Select City Walk at Saket, DLF and Ambience at Vasant Kunj wore a deserted look. “Customers will increase over the weekend,” said a staffer at Ambience mall.
Restaurants also reopened Friday at 50% capacity. “We have started dine-in by complying with physical distancing norms while arranging seats. It is a great relief to workers and staff because several have lost earnings since the onset of the pandemic,” said staff from Chili’s restaurant at Connaught Place.
Several restaurants and bars have also decided to allow dine-in with reservations to avoid crowding over the weekend.
At Sarojini Nagar Metro station, people were allowed inside only after getting tested. “We are testing all commuters exiting Metro stations and are taking down their details. We have tested more than 500 people today… tests are being conducted at Dhaula Khan Metro station and other public places in Delhi,” said Amita Sarkar, a senior lab technician at the station.
Random testing was stopped from January 12 after the ICMR guidelines directed that tests be done only for symptomatic and comorbid patients who have come in contact with positive patients.
“Now, as the restrictions are eased, the districts have also strengthened the enforcement at markets to maintain social distancing and Covid appropriate behaviour. Thus, random tests are being conducted to curb the spread of the virus,” said a senior district official, on condition of anonymity.
Source: The Indian Express