The Karnataka state government has allowed the sale of crackers ahead of the Diwali (Deepavali) season from November 1 to 17. Further, it has instructed vendors, customers, and local administrators to follow several guidelines stipulated to keep Covid-19 spread in check.
According to the guidelines issued by Chief Secretary TM Vijay Bhaskar, vendors will be allowed to sell crackers and other items in locations far from other commercial and residential spaces. “Only authorised dealers who obtain necessary clearance from offices concerned will be allowed to set up shops. Each shop should have cross-ventilation facilities and should display the license provided by the concerned authority,” the guidelines stated.
In addition to this, stall owners have been directed to avoid crowding and to mark spots ensuring six-feet social distancing between customers. While sanitisers should be provided to customers visiting the shop at entry points, vendors have also been asked to sanitise the shop daily, the guidelines said.
“Both sellers and buyers should compulsorily wear masks and should follow all guidelines issued by the Home and Health departments as well,” the order added.
At the same time, healthcare experts believe that the possible rise in air-pollution levels and winter together is a dangerous combination for patients already suffering from respiratory disorders, especially during Covid-19 pandemic. “Air pollutants create smog which is highly toxic for a healthy person and might be fatal for high-risk patients suffering from respiratory diseases. Such issues also worsen with seasonal changes like winter when a rise in allergens are observed,” said Dr Padma Sundaram, Consultant Pulmonology, Manipal Hospitals.
She added, “The onset of winter brings about infectious diseases, especially viruses, which causes worsening of symptoms in Asthma and COPD leading to hospitalisation requirements. While the healthcare system across the nation is struggling to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19, a hike the patient-load due to the seasonal change, and increased air pollution may worsen the situation.”
However, Dr Vivekanand Padegal, Director – Pulmonology, Fortis Hospital shared his concern on how maintaining social distancing at purchase sites would also be a challenge. “I am more concerned that, people tend to ignore Covid-19-related precautions during all aspects of the festival season. If this is not carried out properly, we might see a sharp uptick in new cases as demonstrated in Kerala during Onam,” he said.
He added that people with pre-existing illnesses such as asthma or allergies should follow abundant precaution during the season.
Meanwhile, a hardware store vendor in the city who runs cracker business annually on Avenue Road told indianexpress.com that sales have been witnessing a declining trend since 2018 after several Supreme Court rulings placed restrictions on Deepavali celebrations. “The law then had an impact as several city folks chose not to buy crackers and other items. With Covid-19 restrictions in place, we are expecting a worse impact this year. Hence, we have placed only 60 per cent of the usual orders this time,” the vendor said.
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