In a tacit imposition of “weekend curfew” in the city, the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) on Saturday sealed four major malls and over 1,000 shops for three days in a day-long drive to penalise businesses violating Covid-19 protocols.
The move also prompted voluntary closure of at least two other malls and the popular Kadak Bazaar market.
Officials of a “flying squad” formed to check violations of Covid protocol went around their wards, sealing shops where social distancing or wearing of masks by customers were not followed. The VMC also said that it sealed the business of several street vendors and collected a fine of Rs 1.04 lakh for similar violations.
With 111 cases from 3,930 samples, Vadodara’s Covid-19 tally reached 17,802 on Saturday. Officer on Special Duty Vinod Rao said the idea to carry out checks and seal premises violating the norms was part of the proactive preventive action by the VMC.
“Vadodara does not have a reason to panic about the number of cases yet, but if we do not show self-restraint, we could have a spike. Currently, we are at 30% of the 7,000-hospital beds occupancy with an average of 100 patients being added every day. Our highest admissions in hospitals were on September 17 with 3,300 cases… this includes patients from other districts and even states such as Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra,” Rao said.
“On November 8, we were at 1,100 admissions in hospitals and today on November 28, we are at 2,200 hospital admissions for Covid-19. So, the deterrent is essential,” Rao said, adding that the sealing would act as a preventive measure ahead of a long weekend due to a public holiday on Monday.
Shifting the onus on businesses attracting customers, he said, “The accountability should be on the businesses because it is essential that they adhere to the Covid-19 guidelines. We cannot crackdown on individuals in a city with a population of two million. We had issued a notification in May, making it clear that shops will have to stop entertaining persons who come without masks, but today our teams saw that the sanitisation as well as enforcement of masks were not being done. Therefore, the premises were sealed for three days. We could have done it for seven days, but we just want to create self-consciousness among the people.”
Rao added that with the VMC proactively adding beds as per the requirement, Vadodara has sufficient beds for Covid-19 cases as well as those equipped with ventilators and oxygen supply. Meanwhile, the traders association has protested the move to seal premises.
Paresh Parikh of the Vadodara Traders Association said, “Look at the size of the markets and the narrow bylanes. Is there any space for social distancing when people turn out in big numbers and is it the fault of the business owner if the violation happens? How many politicians have the government fined for violation of Covid-19 norms? They are busy manipulating the Covid-19 statistics and harassing businesses who are trying to make up for the losses since March this year.”
The VMC teams also announced checks on restaurants on Saturday evening.
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