Amid reports of people crowding markets and shops to buy essentials, the West Bengal government has asked all ration shops owners to draw circles at one-metre gaps outside counters for the customers to stand inside them and ensure that social distancing norm is maintained in view of the highly contagious coronavirus outbreak.
Every customer will have to move ahead to the next circle only after the previous person advances, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Jyotipriyo Mallick said on Wednesday.
"There is no need for panic buying of essential food items as all ration shops will remain open daily," he said.
Some privately-owned shops in Kolkata also took the initiative of drawing circles or lines with chalks on the ground in front of counters to ensure people do not jostle or stand close to each other.
It was, however, a different scene at several vegetable and fish markets and mega shops in the city and suburbs, with crowded alleys and counters as people went into panic buying in view of the 21-day lockdown from Wednesday announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Paying little heed to repeated announcements that shops selling food, medicine and other essential items will remain open during the lockdown period, people stood in serpentine queues for hours to buy goods.
Personnel of the Kolkata Police also made rounds of the city's streets announcing that essential goods' stores will remain open and requested people to stand at a metre's distance from each other at shops.
They urged people not to go for panic buying and thus crowd the outlets.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)