Bengaluru: Social distancing went out the window in Mangaluru city on Tuesday when hundreds poured into the streets after the Dakshina Kannada district administration relaxed lockdown for nine hours. The 72-hour complete lockdown in the district was imposed in addition to the nationwide lockdown in place to arrest the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The district administration allowed shops to be open from 6am to 3pm, resulting in huge crowds who were spooked by district in-charge minister Kota Sreenivas Poojary’s statement that the complete lockdown could be back in place. Residents could be seen lining up outside supermarkets and grocery stores in Mangaluru and other parts of the district.
At Kadri market, chairs were placed apart for those in queue to sit and practise social distancing. But in central market, hundreds were out with no precautionary measures in place, News18 Kannada reported.
"While the queue outside supermarkets had people standing apart, the central market was very crowded. People were buying in bulk from here and selling it outside on pavements and elsewhere. There was no distance between people," said Satya Reddy, a resident of Mangaluru who had stepped out to buy essentials at 6am.
"We went to several stores in the city. There were unending queues everywhere. There is uncertainty, panic so people are just moving from one place to another. There is absolute chaos here," said Shubha J Rao, a freelance journalist and resident of Mangaluru.
A Twitter user shared photos photos of traffic snarls and people crowding outside shops.
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Unplanned #relaxation during the #lockdown to purchase essentials by the district administration of Dakshina Kannada is a total failure and has made the whole lockdown a useless thing! @PMOIndia @narendramodi @CMofKarnataka pictures from the town of Sullia, Karnataka pic.twitter.com/Qo42dv8zlh— Ramkishan Betta (@ramkishanbetta) March 31, 2020
The Dakshina Kannada administration had put the district under complete lockdown after rising number of Covid-19 cases in neighbouring Kasargod district of Kerala. Except stores selling milk, essential shops, including groceries, were closed. Medical facilities remained open. A decision on extending the lockdown will be taken in a meeting on Tuesday.