Essential shops open for longer duration to facilitate social distancing in U'khand

Dehradun, Mar 27 (PTI) The Uttarakhand government on Friday ordered the opening of shops selling essentials in the state for six hours instead of three to stop overcrowding in market places and ensure better compliance with the norms of social distancing in its fight against the coronavirus.

Shops selling essential articles are to remain open from 7 am to 1 pm now instead of just three hours till 10 am, officials said.

Opening shops for just three hours in the morning was leading to overcrowding at market places, they said.

Vegetables, fruits and milk will remain available all day and vegetable vending carts can go from door to door, the officials said.

An official advisory asked authorities to ensure uninterrupted supply of essentials to people and allow vehicular movement on roads for the purpose.  The transportation of harvested agricultural produce, milk and dairy products, eggs, meat, fertilisers, pesticides and animal feeds which have been categorised as essential items remained unhindered, the officials said.

However, movement of four-wheelers for unessential purposes is totally banned across the state. Movement of two-wheelers is allowed.

As a result thinner crowds were seen at vegetable markets and outside provision outlets. People lined up in queues inside the 'Lakshman Rekha' circles waiting patiently for their turn to buy vegetables in Pauri, Shrinagar, Almora, Uttarkashi, Haridwar and Dehradun.

The administration has also made arrangements for home delivery of food and groceries among senior citizens, the poor and the helpless.

In Pithoragarh, people who have returned from their workplaces in big cities or foreign countries are being located by the district administration in order to counsel them on the coronavirus.

'We have asked our patwaris, Asha workers, gram pradhans and other village level workers to furnish information on those returning home from outside the state and asked medical workers to counsel them on how to take preventive steps to stop the spread of the virus,' Pithoragarh district magistrate V K Jogdnande said.

He said a number of workers returning from their workplaces have reached their homes in remote villages silently on foot after they could not find vehicles in the wake of the lockdown.

'As most of these workers work in hotels, restaurants and in transport business in big cities, the possibility of their being infected cannot be ruled out,' Jogdnande said.

Over 100 workers from Nepal waiting to come to India at a bridge linking the two countries at Dharchula have been sent back to their country after taking the consent of the Nepalese authorities, SDM, Dharchula, A K Shukla said.

Raids were conducted at sabzi mandis and provision shops by the food and supplies department to check illegal profiteering following complaints that traders were overpricing essential items at some places taking advantage of people's compulsions, the officials said. PTI ALM AQS AQS