After being closed for nearly two months, several markets in Delhi opened on Tuesday following the "odd-even" formula while sanitising and trying to establish social distancing protocols to contain the spread of coronavirus.
While popular markets like Connaught Place and Khan Market bore a deserted look in the first half of the day, traders in markets like Tilak Nagar, Karol Bagh and Sarojini Nagar were seen cleaning their shops.
Sushil Khatri, president of the Tilak Nagar Main Market Association, said shops had opened but many were clueless about the odd-even rule.
"Since many shops have opened after 56 days, many are cleaning them and setting things in order. We have requested the police to allow us to open the shops for today. We are waiting for more guidelines from the Delhi Police on the odd-even formula," he said.
Policemen were seen making announcements, urging shopkeepers not to encroach on roads and ensure that crowding doesn't take place outside their shops.
Harminder Singh, who runs a kitchenware shop, said as a precautionary measure customers will not be allowed inside shops. He also had a rope tied outside his shop and had kept a sanitiser bottle as a precautionary measure.
Connaught Place, which is the commercial hub in Central Delhi, saw traders marking circles to ensure that visitors can ensure social distancing.
"While we are happy that shops can now be opened after 50 days, we have requested all traders to adhere to SOPs (thermal scanning, social distancing and wearing masks at all times) failing which action as contemplated under the DDMA Act is liable to be taken. All shops will be closed at the prescribed timings given in the guidelines so all reach home safely before the 7 pm deadline," Atul Bhargava, president, New Delhi Traders Association said.
Khan Market traders said the odd-even rule cannot be effectively implemented in the market and they are figuring out the modalities as some stores opened in the posh market.
At Karol Bagh in central Delhi, the famous Gaffar mobile market started functioning on odd-even basis. On Tuesday, odd numbered shops remained open and many shopkeepers were busy setting their shop in order.
Hawkers who did repair works and odd jobs like replacing tempered glass on mobiles in the market were not to be seen.
However, a large number of people had gathered in the market to get repair work done. Market association and representatives police kept urging people to ensure social distancing.
Shops selling non-essential items in Main Market Laxmi Nagar opened as well.
Shopkeepers visiting shops after nearly two months expressed concern over the dwindling number of customers due to the epidemic. The market comprising shops of garment, clothes, kitchenware and other daily use items was virtually devoid of any customers in the morning hours.
Pradyumn Jain, president Main Market Association, Laxmi Nagar, said that the shops will open according to odd- even formula.
"We are numbering shops, irrespective of type of items sold by them, to follow the odd-even rule as directed by Delhi government," Jain said.
Pravin Verma of Verma Jewellers, said, "Everybody is concerned about customers. The situation is bad. It was not good earlier as well but coronavirus and lockdown have hit everybody hard and people are buying only essential items these days. Jewellery would be the last item on their mind."
"I have come to take stock of the situation and the shop will run properly after the market association is done with its odd-even formula. There are no customers which is natural as it is the first day. We are worried for the coming days because people have lost their jobs and livelihood and they do not have money. Another problem is that many shop assistants returned to their home states and it will be difficult to open shops without them," said Sachin Chhabra, owner of Chhabra Cloth Emporium.
Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary General of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), said, "In the last 55 days, shops were completely closed due to the lockdown resulting in the shops being heavily covered with dust, filth and left with a strange smell. Most of the traders have begun cleaning their shops."
"Considering the accumulation of dust and viruses including corona, it is likely that it will take at least a week for the shops to be completely cleaned. From the shop counter to the stock, there was a thick layer of dust, the cleaning of which is a challenging task," he said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced opening of shops in markets on an odd-even basis and warned that if social distancing norms are not maintained by a shopkeeper, his or her shop will be closed and action will be taken.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)