Delhi unlock: Markets, malls in city wear deserted look as they reopen on odd-even basis



NEW DELHI: Markets and malls in the national capital wore a dull and deserted look and only a few shops and outlets reopened on odd-even basis on Monday after being closed for over one-and-half month in view of the aggressive second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Only a few customers were seen in several markets as shopkeepers cleaned and sanitised their premises, hoping for more people to come during the day and the situation to improve in the coming weeks.

According to the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, the ongoing lockdown, which had been imposed on April 19, has been extended by one more week (up to June 14).

Malls, markets and market complexes (except weekly markets) will open between 10 am to 8 pm on odd-even basis in accordance with their shop numbers, from Monday morning.

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The central market in Lajpat Nagar, one of the most crowded markets and a popular shopping destination in the city wore a deserted look as shopkeepers with allotted odd numbers slowly set up their shops after a gap of nearly two months.

While many shops with odd numbers slowly opened their outlets on Monday, there were several others who chose to wait for a few more days to monitor the situation to finally restart their business.

Sixty-year-old Kujeet Singh, whose family has been running “Classik Electronics” at the central market for the last 35 years, said his shop has been allotted number 25, so it’s an odd day but he is not looking to start his sales for at least two more days.

“I recently lost my mother. I am still trying to cope up with the loss. Today, we have opened the shop only for cleaning and sanitising. We will close it by early and will try to resume work from maybe the next two days. We still stay away and since, the shop is run by my family members, so that’s a relief,” Singh said.

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On the contrary, shopkeeper Amit Kukreja (38) is hopeful to make an earning gradually as he and his staff slowly put up clothes for sale on display.

“Even during the first wave, the unlocking began after months. Initially, we did face issues but slowly and gradually, our sales picked up. I am hopeful that this time too, we will manage to get back to our business as usual. We got to deal with the losses suffered in the past few months but hopefully we can make it up gradually,” he said.

Meanwhile, 52-year-old Mohit Verma, who is also into clothing business was happy to welcome his first customer of the day who bought a kurta.

“Usually, we used to set up our shops by 9.30 am but today, the scene is quite different. I have just had one customer since morning but I am hopeful that customers would start coming in slowly in the coming days,” he said.

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Verma said many of the shopkeepers have also stayed away from opening their shops because it’s Monday, but eventually, we are all hopefully of being functional just like old times depending on the circumstances.

Deepak Arora, whose small shop usually sees women crowding for artificial jewellery and fancy items said “Usually, we open it by 10 am and close our shop around 8 pm but today as we restarted, it seems like we will just clean our products, santitise them and may be start our business in the coming days.

There are hardly any customers and if this remains the situation, then I’m planning to shut my shop my 5 pm”.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) R Meena took a round around the main markets in the area on Monday morning to review the situation and also interacted with shopkeepers and representatives of Market Welfare Associations, urging them to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour.

“Our staff have been deployed at the entry and exit barricades.

Sanitisers have been provided and markings have been done to ensure social distancing is maintained.

Thermal screenings will also be done at the entry points and only limited number of people will be allowed entry at a time,” the senior police officer said.

Most of the shops at Surajmal Vihar market were closed.

The situation at the Cross River Mall was similar.

“The business will come on track, but it will take time as compared to last year. The situation this year is quite different. The casualties were much higher than the last year. We just hope that the business would come back to track as soon as possible,” said Happy Singh, who runs a gift shop at Surajmal Vihar market.

Vikas Kumar, who runs a mobile accessories at Cross River Mall, said he received a call from the mall authorities that they can open the shop.

“I have received a call from the mall authorities that I can open my shop from today. I run a small shop inside the mall. Today, it seems like the day will be spent on cleaning the counter. We hope that the situation would get better in future,” Kumar said.

Abhijeet Nagpal from Ratan Photo Studios, Krishna Market, said, “Our shop has remained closed most of the time since the pandemic began. There was no work in summers last year. In winters, we thought it was over and there were bookings for marriages and parties. But it (second Covid wave) happened again”.

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