It’s late afternoon and Rajesh Tiwari, who runs a non-descript corner shop at Sushant Lok’s Vyapar Kendra, is sitting without any customer. Located at the entrance of a popular retail hub, the outlet selling soft drinks to cigarettes has been doing brisk business for many years. But in the past 10 days, Tiwari’s sales have been severely hit.
With the fear of coronavirus increasing, the regular customers are just not turning up these days. “Everybody is staying home. The regular smokers are mostly using home delivery services”, Tiwari, 35, says.
Go a little further in the glitzy town of Gurugram, best known for skyscraper offices of multinationals, premium malls and fancy apartments, some stores appear busy. For instance, Shyam Store, a large-format kirana outlet is packed with shoppers purchasing consumer staples like wheat flour, pulses and rice in bulk. Nearly a dozen store attendants, including the manager, are trying to manage the crowd, which is stocking up in case there’s a full lockdown. The activity here is in contrast to the eerie silence elsewhere. The malls are shut, corporate groups have allowed work from home, and the residents have isolated themselves in compliance with government advisories. At Cyber Hub, the largest F&B cluster in the heart of the millennium city, the scene is a little different, from a distance. This reporter finds office goers, rather rare during the corona days, walking around. But a closer look reveals a dominant virus theme in the otherwise happening complex. Vast electronic display boards, which on a normal day would flash about shows, events and brands, are running precautionary messages on how to keep away COVID-19. The restaurants and food courts, that remind you of those European cities, are all closed.
Across the hub, in Cyber City, most offices are operational, but that’s about all. The attendance has dropped drastically since Tuesday, when the state government came out with guidelines urging private enterprises to vacate offices as much as possible.
Move on to Cyber Greens, which houses firms like Nokia Solutions and Networks, HP India, and United Airlines, the attendance is down by 75 per cent.
While till last week, temperature reading at the entrance was in place in just a few of these towers, now it is mandatory everywhere. In some places, temperature scan has practically replaced the traditional security check at the entrance. Compared to last week, when this reporter had earlier visited Gurugram for a recce of coronavirus impact in workplaces, clean-up exercise has been stepped up. Hand sanitizers seem to be all over the counters at any office building, while it’s tough to find faces without masks.
The drop off area outside the twin towers of One and Two Horizon Centres is deserted, giving away the coronavirus impact. In stark contrast to a normal day, cab drivers are relaxed as they wait for passengers.
To keep a check on the spread of the virus, many housing societies have stopped entry of domestic help, while some have restricted entry of daily vendors supplying newspapers and milk. Also, even as delivery personnel from e-commerce firms are being seen as a lifeline, they are being stopped for temperature scanning before they can enter any of the high-end apartments.