Violation of social distancing norm has become the order of the day in several parts of Chittoor district, while the total number of cases is inching close to 3,500 with the reporting of 168 new COVID-19 cases on Monday.
The cases in the district have been on a steady spike since June in the district, with its porous borders with Tamil Nadu on the eastern side and with Karnataka in the west. July reported an average of 150 to 200 cases per day with growing number of red zones and containment areas. Since a few days, the municipalities of Punganur and Madanapalle too are registering steady increase in positive cases.
Though the civic authorities have imposed restrictions in business hours at the vegetable markets in Chittoor and Tirupati municipal corporations and elsewhere, social distancing is largely violated. With summer temperature yet to come down, many people are seen rushing to the vegetable and meat markets between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m.
In thickly populated areas, liquor outlets are witnessing big crowds. The consumers keep competing with each other in getting their quota, unmindful of social distancing and mask guidelines. In Tirupati, long queues in violation of social distancing norms are a common sight at liquor outlets.
It is observed that the police officials are concentrating on implementing the mask rule, while seriousness is missing when it comes to social distancing. “When there is a stipulation of business hours till 11 a.m., it would be difficult to impose the social distancing norm. Everybody wants essential commodities such as milk and vegetables. On Sundays, it gets even more difficult to control the crowds at market places. Before the deadline, they have to return. Any serious intervention on our part will only lead to an embarrassing situation,” said a police officer in Chittoor.
During the last few weeks, the demand for vegetables has been on the rise, with people considering them essential for boosting their immunity. The demand for chicken and fish has also soared by over 200% due to their protein value.
Majority of the consumers say they could not miss nutritious diet. “The police personnel alone can implement the COVID-19 guidelines. The business hours can be extended and flow of public can be be regulated from the localities of the town in two or three shifts to avoid congestion in markets,” said Kolagani Hari, a small trader of a red zone in Srikalahasti.