Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India], November 12 (ANI): The annual firecracker fair organised at Chennai's Island Grounds during the Diwali season is suffering from low footfall and lack of adequate business as the number of shops has been reduced from 65 to 40 this year due amid enforcement of COVID-19 safety protocols.
"The sale of firecrackers has drastically fallen this season. We're selling only green crackers this time considering the rising pollution and breathing concerns of people, many of whom are already vulnerable due to the pandemic. But the number of customers coming to the Island Grounds has also fallen compared to previous years when the sight was very different," Muchiber Rahman, President of Firecrackers Association - Chennai, told ANI.
The firecracker shop owners are hopeful that the sales would increase during the current festive season.
"The number of shops has reduced from 65 to 40 this year due to the pandemic and several other safety protocols. But I hope that we can sell the green firecrackers this time since we couldn't sell much since the lockdown was imposed," a shopkeeper said.
The usual Diwali cheer was, however, missing from firecracker shops as fewer customers stopped by in order to avoid public gathering due to the fear of COVID-19.
"I came out to buy the firecrackers as children get excited about these things. They have been sitting idle at home with no exposure to the outside world for months due to the threat of the virus. Diwali is an occasion that gives them the opportunity to go out and celebrate. But we're following all the safety protocols and buying only green firecrackers keeping the health concerns in mind," Venkatesh, a customer, said.
The firecracker shops made arrangements for social distancing and sanitisation along with the distribution of masks to customers.
"All the shops here at the Island Grounds have made sure to follow the safety guidelines in view of the pandemic. I am happy to see that people are also following these rules. Sanitisation facilities are available outside every shop. These are tough times for business owners, they've had no significant sales in the last few months," Pratap, another customer, said. (ANI)