The Centre on Monday issued guidelines to marketplaces on containing the spread of Covid-19, suggesting that they create a sub-committee in each marketplace to facilitate and monitor implementation of Covid-appropriate behaviour and to explore the feasibility of allowing business on alternate days in situations where the self-regulatory approach fails.
“COVID appropriate behaviour in marketplaces may be self-regulated by Market Associations through a number of measures… Mask dispensing kiosks at Government approved rates may be set up at entry points and parking lots,” the guidelines, issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said.
The government further said that “where self-regulatory approach fails or lacks impact, the planning shall also entail taking enforcement actions”.
The ministry recommended three options: Levying of fines/penalties on defaulters for not wearing mask/face cover, or for not following physical distancing norms; exploring the option of allowing markets/shops to open on alternate days; closure of marketplaces if/when a higher number of cases are reported — found to be having epidemiological links with the market — by the administration.
The Centre said that planning should “specifically factor-in” the requirement for peak days/ hours. It recommended that for crowd management, specifically during peak hours, roads within marketplaces could be made vehicle-free. It also recommended the creation of separate entries and exits “if feasible, with unidirectional flow of visitors”. It also suggested deployment of civil defence volunteers and home guards as an option to manage crowds.
The Centre also suggested “incentives/discounts for those who shop during non-peak hours”.
“Provision for online booking of groceries/items and delivery at doorstep must be encouraged. The staff for home deliveries to be screened thermally by the vendors prior to allowing home deliveries,” it added.
“Appropriate arrangements for personal protection devices… shall be made available by shop owners for their employees as per requirement. The Market Associations shall procure the same for sanitization of public utility areas,” the guidelines state.“Employees who are at higher risk … must take extra precautions. Market Associations shall be advised that such persons should not be exposed to any frontline work requiring direct contact with the public,”it said.
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