Weekly markets reopened in Delhi on Monday after a gap of over 150 days with a number of protective measures against the novel coronavirus such as vendors wearing face masks at all times, space between stalls, sanitiser dispensers and police patrol to check crowding. The authorities allowed the markets to reopen on a trial basis till August 30.
"Hawkers were instructed not to cause crowding and maintain proper social distance. The were also asked to use mask and sanitiser were provided to them," said Rajkumar Kataria, the general secretary of Pushp Vihar weekly market near Saket court.
Brijesh Goel, the chairman of the Chamber of Trade and Industry, said there are around 2,700 weekly markets in the national capital and their opening will boost the economy of the city.
Goel, who is also the convener of the ruling AAP's traders wing, said that representatives of weekly markets will meet Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday for a discussion on how to put on track their businesses hit by the pandemic.
At the weekly market in Acharya Niketan in Mayur Vihar, hawkers and vendors wore face covers while policemen maintained vigil to ensure social distancing.
According to North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) officials, the weekly market in Ranjeet Nagar reopened on Monday and COVID-19 protocols were followed by buyers and sellers. "Social distancing between vendors has been ensured. The customers are also being monitored. Sanitiser has also been kept at all stalls," a senior official said.
The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) last week allowed weekly markets to open on a trial basis from August 24-30 and directed authorities to ensure strict implementation of anti-COVID-19 measures, including social distancing and mandatory use of face masks.
According to an order issued by Chief Secretary Vijay Dev, weekly markets will not be allowed in COVID-19 containment zones in the national capital. As per norms, weekly markets will be permitted to open from 4 pm to 10 pm and not more than two buyers will be allowed to be at any stall at a time.
Each vendor will be allowed to use 6'x4' area and stalls will not be permitted to merge. Each vendor will wear a mask and also keep hand sanitiser ready for buyers. Only one vendor and a helper will be allowed on each stall and more than two people will not be permitted to operate the stall.
Buyers should bring their own bio-degradable bags for shopping, according to the standard operating procedure issued by the DDMA.
Police officials maintained vigil at the markets and those without masks were fined. "We need to oversee if the guidelines issued in the wake of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are being followed or not. We will take strict action against those found to be violating social distancing. We are working in coordination with civic staffers," said a senior police officer from West Delhi.
Another top police official from North district said, "If any violations are found at these weekly markets, strict action will be taken against those found to be violating social distancing norm or not wearing mask. We have deployed our team to keep a close watch along with MCD staff". In Delhi, weekly markets were closed since March 23. A nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25 to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Weekly markets in Pushp Vihar, Najafgarh, Shiv Nagar, Nizamuddin, Malka Ganj, Ranjeet Nagar, Ghanta Ghar, Mangolpuri, A Block Shastri Nagar, and Kheran Kalan among others reopened on Monday.