NEW DELHI: Days after the Delhi High Court raised concerns over the violation of COVID-19 protocols in various markets in the city after the easing of lockdown, trader bodies on Tuesday said it is not possible for them to control crowds and the onus is on the administration and enforcement agencies, traders’ bodies on Tuesday said it is not possible for them to control crowds and the onus is on the administration and enforcement agencies.
On Friday, the court had asked the Centre and the Delhi government to take strict measures, sensitise shopkeepers and hold meetings with markets and vendor associations in this regard. At a meeting held by the AAP with Chambers of Trade and Industry (CTI), the traders condemned the recent comments of AIIMS Delhi director Randeep Guleria on crowding in markets. “Given the way people are crowding in the markets and malls without following any COVID-appropriate behaviour, I feel a third wave may hit earlier, possibly in 6 to 8 weeks,” he had said.
Reacting to Guleria’s statement, chairman of the CTI Brijesh Goyal said: “Traders are soft targets, pictures of few of the markets are published to attack us and show us in a poor light. They point out the crowding in markets but remain silent on political rallies. Such statements create panic among the traders’ community.”
He said traders can only ensure the compliance of COVID norms inside their shops, godowns or offices. “But it is the administration and the police who have to ensure that the protocols are followed in streets and other public spaces,” he said.
Goyal claimed that crowding is an issue limited to only a few of the 950 major markets in Delhi. As part of the gradual lifting of restrictions, markets were initially allowed to open from June 7 on an odd-even basis. They were allowed to open fully between 10 am and 8 pm from June 12.
President of the Sarojini Nagar Mini Market Traders’ Association Ashok Randhawa, too, said shopkeepers can’t be expected to manage crowds outside their shops. “Our only aim is to have some customers every day. We make sure that not more than three customers are inside a shop at a time and five if it is a big shop. Who will manage the shop if we start controlling the crowd outside as well?” he asked.
President of the Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal Sanjay Bhargava said at a recent meeting with the DM, he had suggested implementing some “drastic precautions” till the wedding season begins, else, the third wave may hit around September and lead to the imposition of another lockdown. “I suggested that till August 15, the markets can follow the odd-even system,” he said.