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Hours ahead of Karnataka ‘close down’, people go into panic buying, crowd shops

The Karnataka government has announced a 14-day mini-lockdown, which CM Yediyurappa termed as “close down”, starting Tuesday night to arrest the spread of Covid-19 in the state. He announced the decision after chairing a cabinet meeting Monday afternoon.

Written by Darshan Devaiah BP | Bengaluru |
April 27, 2021 8:33:37 pm
market, KarnatakaVegetable markets and grocery shops at all major cities wore a crowded look as locals gathered in numbers to fetch essentials. (Express Photo by Deepak Joshi/Representational)

The Karnataka ‘close down’ announced by the Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, which will take effect from 9 pm Tuesday and will remain in force till 6 am of May 12, sent many across the state into panic buying. With just hours left to the mini-lockdown, scores were seen rushing to their nearest grocer, anxious to stock up on ration and other essentials.

Vegetable markets and grocery shops at all major cities wore a crowded look as locals gathered in numbers to fetch essentials. Most people mistook the government’s announcement as a total lockdown like the one announced by the CM on March 23, last year. While a few were seen massing outside liquor stores, most gathered at grocery shops.

As per the leeway granted under the current ‘close down’, shops selling essential commodities will remain open from 6 am to 10 am. Hospitals and pharmacies will be open, while liquor shops, restaurants and hotels can only offer takeaways. “Lockdown is good to avoid the spread of Covid-19 but the government should have given more time for people to stock up on groceries. Though it has allowed essential shops to remain open from 6 am to 10 am, this is not enough. Because of the limited hours to fetch essentials, shops will be more crowded, thereby enabling the virus to spread faster,” Chandiraka, a homemaker from Dasarahalli in North Bengaluru, said.

Most shopkeepers in the state capital echoed the refrain, saying they are finding it difficult to manage the crowds in front of their shops. Vinayak Prasad, who runs a grocery store in Dasarahalli, said, “Since the government has directed us to only stay open between 6 am and 10 am, many people are gathering at once to purchase essentials and we are not being able to handle the crowds. During billing, customers aren’t following the social distancing norm despite us giving clear instructions.”

The civic authority and police, which are responsible for preventing crowding outside shops or instruct shop owners to enforce social distancing, were found missing in action Tuesday.

Bruhat Bengaluru Mahnagara Palike (BBMP), the city civic body, have deployed BBMP marshals to enforce Covid-appropriate behaviour. However, they said that they are too few in number to go to each and every shop and instruct shoppers to follow protocol.

Speaking to indianexpress.com, a BBMP marshal said, “We are trying our best to create awareness and also fine people not wearing masks or following social distancing. But our strength is so little that we can’t go to every individual shopper, asking him or her to follow rules.”

A total of 231 marshals have been tasked with enforcing Covid norms in the city. They work more than 13 hours a day, going about enforcing the Covid protocols topping which is to ensure that locals are wearing masks and maintaining social distance.

The marshals have been carrying a brief for over a year now to patrol busy streets, market areas and other public spaces and put a leash on the virus by enforcing Covid-appropriate behaviour.

The Karnataka government has announced a 14-day mini-lockdown, which CM Yediyurappa termed as “close down”, starting Tuesday night to arrest the spread of Covid-19 in the state. He announced the decision after chairing a cabinet meeting Monday afternoon.

Recently, some members of the state’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) held a meeting and advised the government to announce a two-week lockdown in the state. Karnataka has already been under a night curfew on weekdays from 9 pm to 6 am, with a lockdown on weekends.

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