While the Prime Minister of India called for a Janta curfew, we abided to it. When he asked us for ‘thalis and taalis’, we followed that too. The move towards a 21-day national lockdown was welcomed as well, as many understood that this was perhaps the best way to flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic. However, as we enter the tenth day of the lockdown in Visakhapatnam, the seriousness seems to be abating.
Despite the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, we still see people out and about on the roads. They do not belong to any specific social class. From those in cars to those on foot, there still is activity out on our streets. While some of these are headed to buy the necessary items of groceries, vegetables or medicines, the thought that these trips can be reduced and planned does cross the mind. With the hours of essential provision, availability has been reduced, the queues outside ration shops, grocery stores and rythu bazaars are still long. We speak to a few Vizagites, who share the view of about lockdown in Visakhapatnam.
It was around 9:30 am when I was headed to Purna market where I witnessed a disappointing sight in this lockdown in Visakhapatnam. The place was bustling with around 200 people in the fruits market, where people seemed completely unaware of social distancing. The police present there also had to resort to using their lathis where the crowd seemed difficult to handle while pushing each other to make their purchases before the shops close.
I reside near the Green Park hotel junction where if one is to come in early evenings it will seem like a regular evening. While on my terrace during this time, I have seen several people venture out or drive in the by-lanes aimlessly. Considering that government protocol states 6 am-9 am as the time window to make their essential purchases, it is not difficult to question the negligence of such people when the country is fighting a pandemic. It would help if there was more patrolling within the interior or residential areas of the city too.
In the initial days of lockdown, we could see a lot of senior citizens venture out on the roads for their evening walks. This was a disturbing sight since it is reiterated that with their fragile immune system they need to take extra precautions. To keep a check on this activity, we communicated the same to Kirlampudi’s Residents Welfare Association to send out a word and prevent any unprecedented situation. Exercising is important but that can be done on terraces and in the house premises too. My husband too had witnessed a lot of avoidable movement near the State Bank of India near Old jail road junction, when he stepped out for some bank work. It was surprising to see such carelessness in one of the prime areas of the city.
A Kirana store near my house in Lalita Nagar has been an important source for our essentials. Unfortunately, where organised retail outlets are letting in a specific count of customers in the store at a time, these local stores is where all the cluttering is happening. This specific store has approximately 12 ft wide counter. In this little space, there were about 10-15 customers and the store staff who were busy packing the requirements of the customers. The store owner was also swamped, barely leaving him anytime to ensure that people maintain a distanced queue until their turn.