PUDUCHERRY: People flocked to shops and other business establishments opening on Monday morning after a 43-day gap following the relaxation of the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Nehru Street and Anna Salai were seen crowded with vehicles and people were not following social distancing, though they wore masks. Most shops also started functioning like in normal days without following the basic guidelines and conditions of the lockdown.
Initially, police prevented the Nehru Street shopkeepers from opening their shops and asked for orders. The shopkeepers showed newspaper reports, following which police allowed them to open the shops. The shops will be open from 6 am to 5 pm.
However, the fruit sellers who were moved out from Grand Bazaar market to avoid crowding in the main market and were given the space on the pavements in front of the shops became a hindrance for the shopkeepers. An altercation followed between the Nehru Street traders and the fruit vendors, leading to a protest by the fruit sellers by spilling the fruits on the road. Police intervened and asked the fruit vendors to go back to their previous site in the Grand Bazar market.
Health Minister Malladi Krishna Rao, who made a survey of the border areas of Puducherry with Villupuram and Cuddalore district which are in the red zone following a spurt in COVID-19 cases, expressed concern over the large number of people on the streets and the movement of people from the TN districts to Puducherry and vice versa.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy, who also made an inspection of the situation, said that with a large number of people thronging shops here, the government will rethink the relaxation announced.
He also called up the representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, Traders Association and Micro and Small Industries Association and took up with them the issue of violation of norms by shopkeepers and business establishments