Deserted beach roads and empty streets in Visakhapatnam after 12 PM indicate a peaceful Day 1 of lockdown. With a spike in the number of positive Covid-19 cases across the State, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy had announced a partial lockdown closing all shops after 12 pm. This partial lockdown, which was being implemented from Wednesday, commenced on a positive note with Vizag citizens following the Covid-19 norms, by staying at home after 12 pm.
On Thursday, shops and mini markets set up at different locations were flooded with people buying essentials. But shops and markets after 11:30 PM witnessed people in a hurry to go back home. “We opened the shops a little earlier than regular timings so that people could get essentials required before 12 PM. However, since the first day of lockdown, not many came to shops unless there was an emergency requirement”, said Naga Bhushan, owner of a grocery store at Pithapuram Colony.
Even before the Day 1 of lockdown began at 12 PM, Visakhapatnam Police proceeded to patrol the streets, advising people on the radio to remain at home during the lockdown. At major junctions including Andhra University, Siripuram, NAD, there were barricades set up to minimise the movement of the vehicles.
Police were seen questioning motorists why they were out on the roads after 12 PM since only emergency services were open after that time. They were also asked to show their ID cards. While most of the colleges and offices decided to allot slots for their employees to work on alternative days, employees have to carry their ID cards to avoid trouble during the curfew time. “With this lockdown for two weeks, we were told to come on alternative days to the office. I went to the office yesterday and I had to show my ID card to the police while returning from the office,” said Sarada, a railway employee.
Meanwhile, many of the residents recalled their lockdown times last year and felt there is a need for a complete lockdown to control the Covid-19 cases increasing in the city. On day 1 of lockdown, there were many families in Visakhapatnam who went up the terrace to sit together, having some family time. “Even though there has been an increase in cases, not many organisations were ready to sanction leaves to their employees. But once there is an announcement on lockdown, even the private offices, colleges understand the panic situation and declare leaves for two weeks. This lockdown gave us time to be with the family and make sure that no one in our family is affected by Covid-19,” said Lalitha, homemaker.
Also, the RTC officials have followed the lockdown norms by stopping bus services to other cities and states for two weeks. “Only 20 percent of the bus services are now functioning which are only till 12 PM. Any bus to cities such as Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Ichapuram will run only before 12 PM. No buses will run during the lockdown time,” said Deputy Chief Traffic Manager (CTM) RTC K Venkata Rao.