As the third phase of the lockdown kicked in on Monday with several relaxations added, there has been a noticeable increase in road traffic as non-essential stores lifted shutters, including liquor shops, which people made a beeline at, throwing social distancing norms to the wind.
The easing of the lockdown measures came with its own set of challenges for police personnel as they struggled to manage the crowds outside liquor shops and in some areas in Delhi, they resorted to lathi charge to bring the situation under control. As per the government notification, shops selling liquor have to ensure social distancing and also make sure that not more than five people are present at one time at the shop.
With the Home Ministry allowing plying of private vehicles in all zones with restrictions, traffic was back on the roads in cities — a departure from the eerie quiet that had descended over them during the 40-day lockdown. While the restrictions have not been eased in containment areas, movement of private vehicles have been allowed in red zones with two passengers besides the driver for cars (earlier it was just one passenger in all zones) and no pillion rider for motorcycles.
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Here are the highlights of Day 1 of third phase of lockdown:
#1. Several liquor vends in Delhi had to be shut only hours after they reopened as scores of people gathered outside, violating social distancing norms. Around 150 liquor vends opened in the city on Monday, a month and a half after Delhi announced a lockdown on March 23.
“There have been problems in a few areas where hundreds gathered outside the shops. The MHA order states clearly that social distancing norms have to be maintained and in places this was not done, we have asked shops owners to make arrangements before opening up again,” said a senior government official.
In East Delhi, for example, most shops had to be shut, an official said, after long lines, without any designated spots for people to stand in line, were seen. “We have asked the owners to make adequate arrangements before opening up again,” an official said. At an outlet in Kashmere Gate, police resorted to mild lathicharge social distancing norms were flouted by people outside the shop.
Construction activities also resumed where workers were available on the site following revised guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
#2. Large parts of West Bengal wore a deserted look as the state government is yet to decide on the relaxations in the green and orange zones. Shops, barring those selling essential commodities, remained closed and vehicles were off the roads in most parts of the state in the morning. Bus operators, however, refused to commence services stating it would be economically not viable for them to run vehicles with only 20 passengers.
Delhi: More number of vehicles seen on roads in the national capital today, after Delhi govt announces several relaxations amid #CoronavirusLockdown; Visuals from Moolchand. pic.twitter.com/5orSQBBP4F
— ANI (@ANI) May 4, 2020
#3. In Chhattisgarh, a large number of people had queued up outside liquor shops after the government allowed outlets to open in the state except the containment zones. In Rajnandgaon, a huge crowd had gathered outside liquor shops, flouting social distancing norms.
The state excise department, which has allowed liquor outlets to open from 8 am to 7 pm, is also working on starting home delivery of liquor at some places to discourage crowding at shops, PTI quoted an excise official as saying. Local administrations of several districts have kept the liquor shop timings from 8 am to 4 pm
#4. In Kerala, shops selling essential and non-essential goods opened in Thiruvananthapuram after the government allowed opening of shops registered under Kerala Shops and Establishments Act except for those in single and multi-brand malls.
#5. In Assam, movement of people and vehicles increased in Guwahati after the government announced relaxation in the restrictions. The government has announced night curfew from 6 pm to 6 am across the state from Monday. Four districts of the total 33 are in orange zone while the rest are in the green category.
#7. In Tamil Nadu, mobile phone, electronic and stationery shops were seen opening in Chennai.
#8. Employees and workers of a garment factory in Peenya Industrial Area in Bengaluru, Karnataka, rejoined work after the factory opened following the revised guidelines issued by the government. Heavy vehicular movement was witnessed in parts of Bengaluru leading to traffic jam in some areas.
In a few videos that have gone viral, some people in Kolar, a small town in Karnataka, were spotted bursting crackers outside wine shops as well.
#9. In Pune, hundreds of tipplers had to return home disappointed with no formal order coming from the district administration on reopening of stores despite Maharashtra government allowing the sale of alcohol. The wine shops (which generally open at 10 am) remained closed with, in some places, owners showing up to tell the gathered prospective customers that they were unable to open the shop until they receive a written order from the District Collector via the State Excise Department.
#10. In Himachal Pradesh, people gathered in large numbers outside shops in Shimla which opened after 40 days on Monday. Government offices also opened with thirty per cent staff in attendance, but public transport remained shut. The Himachal Pradesh government has allowed most of the shops, except hair salons, barbershops, spas and bars, to open during a five-hour relaxation in the curfew.
#11. Chaotic scenes outside liquor stores in some parts of Uttar Pradesh were witnessed, while elsewhere serpentine queues were seen long before the outlets opened. Principal Secretary, Excise, Sanjay Bhoosreddy along with officials of the department inspected liquor shops in various parts of Lucknow, which include Mahanagar, Aliganj, Indiranagar, and instructed all the shopkeepers to ensure that social distancing is strictly adhered to and that sanitisers are made available.
“Orders have been issued to allow 26,000 liquor shops in the state to open. Liquor shops have opened in most districts of the state, while adhering to the rules and regulations of social distancing. Sale of liquor is going on, while maintaining cleanliness around shops. There is an estimate that on the first day itself, the government is likely to earn Rs 100 crore as revenue,” Bhoosreddy told PTI.
#12. Rajasthan had to close most of the shops where social distancing norms were not being followed. Pictures showed some people struggling to carry liquor bottles, while a few followed the social distancing norms and stood in circles marked in front of shops and on roads. Policemen were also deployed near the shops to ensure that liquor stores are not crowded.