Few obey government instructions about wearing masks and maintaining social distancing
Adilin Beatrice C
The temporary market set up in Trichy in old Palpannai-Chennai highway in Tamil Nadu poses a threat of COVID-19 spread as traders who come to purchase vegetables don’t wear masks or follow social distancing.
Albert Edison, who owns a vegetable shop just a kilometer from the temporary marketplace, prefers to buy fruits and vegetables from other places with fewer crowds. “I went to the temporary market opposite Apollo Hospital at 11 pm two days ago. The 500-square-meter area was crowded with more than 300 people. No one followed social distancing. I observed that I was one among the ten people wearing a mask in the gathering. Most of the sellers also didn’t wear a mask. It was a scary scene to watch. No official was present there to monitor the situation. So I left without buying anything, and stopped going there,” he informed the reporter.
Sumathi S goes to the temporary market with her husband to buy vegetables for their grocery-and-vegetables shop. “The market opens at 10 pm and closes at 6 am. During this window, traders and vegetable shop owners come to buy essentials, so the place is crowded. I and my husband wore masks when we entered the market. But it was very uncomfortable to speak, bargain and buy vegetables with the masks on. It took us longer than usual. So I preferred to remove the mask and finish the work soon,” he shared.
Saravana N buys vegetables and fruits for his shop only when he runs out of stock. He informed the reporter: “We usually stock vegetables every day. Earlier, I used to buy them from Gandhi Market, where we can get them cheaper. Now, since the market is closed, I go to the temporary market, which is crowded throughout the night. The situation is the same every day. These days, I go only twice or thrice a week to buy vegetables to reduce the possibility of being infected by the virus.”
According to a report on a Tamil news site, the district administration recently shut Gandhi Market due to overcrowding and space crunch. The temporary market has been opened on the Palpannai-Chennai highway, where only traders and vegetable shop owners are allowed to buy. But the idea has failed to accomplish its goal of social distancing. The reason: Overcrowding.
The reporter tried to contact the district collector, but couldn’t get in touch with him.
Dr. P Kannan, a retired deputy director of health services, said social distancing is mandatory in public places like markets. “During such a critical time, when there is a virus spreading across the country, and especially fast in the state, people should follow the government guidelines. COVID-19 is not a disease that concerns only the affected person. It spreads to people near them easily. So every citizen has the responsibility to protect themselves and their surroundings from the disease.”
Masks prevent the spread of the virus from one person to another. If someone is traveling, it is a good idea to wear a mask. “To be truthful, people are careless about the situation and unaware of the disaster it might bring. The government should ensure that people who visit markets should stand in circles that are drawn to follow social distancing, and mandate them to wear masks.”
On March 30, 2020, the Trichy district administration said it would allow only wholesale traders to buy vegetables from Gandhi Market from 9 pm to 5 am. But after a few days, due to overcrowding, the market was shut totally. The administration has decentralized the retail vegetable traders and allowed them to operate from temporary markets in other places like old Palpannai-Chennai highway, Maduram ground on EB Road, Anna Sports Complex in Khajamalai, Anna Nagar Uzhavar Sandhai and Cauvery bridge.