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Delhi: Unlock, stock & staring down barrel | Delhi News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: On Day 1 of the second phase of lockdown relaxations, not many shops opened, and those that did in markets like Connaught Place, Lajpat Nagar, Greater Kailash I &II, Green Park, South Extension, Sadar Bazar, Laxmi Nagar and Preet Vihar mostly had no customers. TOI also saw that on an odd-dated day, shops with even numbering had opened in violation of the alternate day operations norm.
The otherwise crowded Laxmi Nagar market was almost closed on Monday except for a few air-conditioners and sweets shops. “Most shop owners opened the shops only to clean them and to check their stocks before actually starting operations,” said Ashok Gupta, a trader. Things looked similar at Preet Vihar where many big showrooms were empty.
Even the major south Delhi markets in Green Park, GK I and GK II M Block and South Extension wore a deserted look. There were very few customers around and the shops seemed to be taking the opportunity of carrying out maintenance work after almost 50 days of closure. Rajender Sharda, head of the M Block market at GK I, requested the government to have all the parking attendants vaccinated in the next few days and to prevent the Civil Defence personnel from harassing people to boost customer confidence.
CP was virtually closed, with Atul Bhargava, president, New Delhi Traders’ Association claiming that even the showrooms that had opened was mostly for repair or maintenance. “More or less, everyone is scared and so not resuming business,” he said.
Sarojini Nagar Market was relatively more populated even without the still-banned hawkers. Ashok Randhawa, member of the traders’ association, described the footfall as being around a third of normal and said it was “good” considering it was just the first day response after the lockdown. The problem there, however, was the ignorance of physical distancing requirements. While experts have recommended double masking, compliance wasn’t total, and a few shoppers with handkerchiefs and gamcha covering their faces argued with Civil Defence Volunteers. In CP, Sadar Bazar and some other markets, policemen had to step in to enforce the mask orders.
At Sadar Bazar, shopkeepers had marked their shops with red and green colours, the former to open on even dates and the latter on odd days. “Our challenge is implementing social distance on our narrow lanes, which are barely 3-4 feet wide,” admitted Paramjeet Singh Pamma, vice-president, Federation of Sadar Bazar Traders Associations.
Shops in Lajpat Nagar didn’t have such a defining system. “Here, the numbering of complexes has been done randomly and it is not feasible to implement the odd-even concept,” argued Ashwini Marwah, secretary, Traders’ Association of Lajpat Nagar. “So, even-numbered shops abutting each other will surely open on Tuesday at cross-purposes with the odd-even scheme.”
Despite some wholesale markets seeing congestion on Monday, attended by widespread flouting of Covid-appropriate behaviour, many wholesalers claimed that retailers from far-flung areas were avoiding shopping because the odd-even scheme does not allow them to purchase everything they need in a single visit. Some market association officials, like Sanjay Bhargava of Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal, also complained of being unable to get e-passes for their employees.
In South Extension too, Vijay Kumar, member of the market association, reported problems due to e-passes not getting generated. And since there also was the problem of enforcing the odd-even system because one plot had a single shop while another had two or three, Kumar batted for all shops being allowed to open every day with staggered timing.
Most of the shop owners and businessmen generally felt that it would take 3-4 days for the customers to regain confidence and return for shopping without fearing Covid infection. As Sharda said, “We only got a day to get the markets ready for opening.”


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