“Even though the government allowed shops selling essential items to remain open between 6 am and 2.30 pm every day to avoid unwanted crowding, several shops could not control the crowd and ensure social distancing. We are expecting the move would stop crowding at the shops,” a Chennai Corporation official said.
As per the details released by the civic body, as many as 211 shops have been allowed in five regions of South Chennai region alone. As many as 30 and 56 shops have been selected in Valasaravakkam and Alandur zones respectively. Adyar and Perungudi zones have 31 and 66 shops. There are 28 shops in Sholinganallur to supply items to houses. The move would also help the residents, who are quarantined in homes due to the COVID-19 outbreak, to get groceries and vegetables. Apart from south Chennai region, the civic body is collecting the list of supermarkets and vegetable shops and the list of shops are being circulated among residents’ welfare associations in respective zones. However, the shops could deliver items only up to 2.30 pm as the shutters should be down before the allowed time.
“We are already short of employees and we can not deliver as police would not allow our boys on roads,” a supermarket owner in Virugambakam said.
The civic body had already instructed the persons in quarantined houses to keep baskets at their gates to receive food items. The government has allowed food delivery aggregators to deliver food items at allocated time slots.
A grocery shop owner in Valasaravakkam, whose shop has been included in the list, said that he could not home deliver as the shop is too small. “Yesterday (Sunday), officials asked for my contact details. I don’t know anything about home delivery,” the shop owner said.
The Chennai Corporation sealed a Nilgris supermarket functioning in Santhome High Road on Monday. “We had instructed the supermarket owners to avoid overcrowding of customers and ensure social distancing. However, during our inspection, we found that the supermarket had failed to control the crowd,” a Chennai Corporation health department official said.
The official also explained that hotels have been banned from serving food and warned that the facilities would be sealed if they violate the regulations. Another shop on New Model School Road was closed in the Thousand Lights area for keeping the shop open beyond 2.30 pm on Monday.
Clients, traders upset over shifting of pavement shops
More than 300 pavement shops from New Washermenpet market were shifted to Tollgate bus depot on Monday to ensure that customers maintained a safe distance from one another, which has led to complaints from both vendors and customers.
“As soon as we opened the shops, the police asked us to shift to Tollgate depot within an hour. When
we demanded that we meet the higher authorities, they were not ready to even listen to us. From last week, the market was not crowded and the customers were maintaining distance,” said A Gouse Baasha, treasurer, New Washermenpet Merchants’ Association.
“This is the first time in 65 years that we have shifted to another place,” he added. According to them, the Toll Gate bus depot is already occupied by the fish vendors, leaving little space for the newcomers. “Now it has been shifted so far that the business will decrease. The authorities should have allowed at least a few vendors to remain,” said Sampooranam E, a vegetable vendor.
This has also hit the customers from the neighbourhood due to the lack of any transport facility. “Now we have to walk for at least two kilometers to purchase vegetables and fruits,” said Vijaya K, a resident of Buchammal Street.
When contacted, a senior official from Tondiarpet zone said they did not have time to issue notices to the vendors, and assured that they would be allowed to return after the lockdown period.”