Ahmedabad residents were seen queuing up for vegetables and grocery essentials as the week-long strict lockdown was lifted on Friday. The shops were allowed to remain open from 8 am to 3 pm.
Before this lockdown was lifted, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) conducted a massive screening drive for the superspreaders where 33,500 of them have been screened, so far.
“In last 7-8 days, major screening of superspreaders has been undertaken in which 33,500 have been screened. Of them, 700 tested positive. This is an effective exercise conducted to ensure that in future coronavirus does not spread through superspreaders,” additional chief secretary, forest and environment department, Rajiv Kumar Gupta said in a pre-recorded video message released Friday.
However, the AMC changed its policy of screening these superspreaders after every seven days to 14 days. After screening, these superspreaders are issued a health card which earlier was declared to be renewed before seven days.
Rajiv Kumar Gupta on Friday said that they would be screened after 14 days. “We request you all to check the health card issued to these superspreaders and only buy from those who have been issued these cards. These superspreaders will again be screened after 14 days to ensure that they remain healthy and to stop the spread of virus,” Gupta said.
However, not many customers were seen taking a note of whether the vendors are carrying a health card or not.
He also assured that the situation is slowly getting normal. “Huge supply has been done and this supply will continue. So in coming two days the situation will further improve,” he added.
On Friday between 8 am and 3 pm, while in many parts the suggestion by authorities to let women and children step outside their houses for first three hours to make purchases was followed, women were also seen carrying plastic buckets to purchase vegetables.
“We were doing with the little stock of vegetables we had during this last one week along with pulses but it was not a major crisis for us since we have a small family,” Jalpa Patel, one of the residents of a residential society in Thaltej said who had come with a plastic bucket to buy vegetables.
Many stores and supermarkets allowed only women to shop between 8 am and 11 am due to which a queue of male customers was formed outside their shops. Speaking to The Indian Express, Rishi Shah (31), a resident of Malabar County, said,” The housing society where I live has the rule that only one person per family will be allowed to go out for shopping and I have been doing that for the past 50 days. Now, with the new rule of supermarkets, I cannot call my wife to shop for us in the morning hours so I have queued up since 9 am.”
In the Bopal-Ghuma Municipality which borders the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation areas on the western periphery of Ahmedabad city Friday relaxed the lockdown measures which were supposed to be in place till May 17. On Friday, shops and vegetable vendors who have procured health cards were allowed to operate.
“Only vendors who have procured health cards from the municipality were allowed to start operations if they had sufficient stock with them,” said Jigisha Shah, president of the municipality. According to her, so far about 300 health cards have been issued by the local body.
“As of now only shops selling groceries, vegetables, milk, medicines and water have been allowed to operate,” said the official.
While most retail shops selling essential goods remained closed in the municipality, vegetable vendors were seen on the roads selling mostly onions, potatoes and garlic. “There were complaints about vendors overcharging. We had sent our officials and had also asked the police to check. But we did not find any vendor overcharging,” said Shah.
The state government on Friday said it will begin distribution of free rations to NFSA (National Food Security Act) card holders from May 17-27. This distribution will not take place in Ahmedabad city.
However, officials said the distribution of free rations for middle income APL-1 card holders will be held between May 18 and 28 for Ahmedabad city.
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