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Why So Careless? Alarming Crowds at Hill Stations, Markets May Usher 3rd Wave Early

Long lines outside liquor stores continue to be a propelling factor in the spread of the Virus.

Long lines outside liquor stores continue to be a propelling factor in the spread of the Virus.

An expert warned that the third wave could hit India in six to eight weeks if COVID-appropriate behaviour is not followed.

With more than three crore COVID-19 cases and above four lakh deaths, one would think that Indians understand the graveness of COVID-19 and would abide by the COVID-19 appropriate behaviour of wearing masks and social distancing as the sacred law of existence; however, as the recent incidents of overcrowding have made it amply clear, that’s not the case.

As we hurtle towards the third wave and struggle to fight vaccine hesitancy, many are flouting protocols, crowding hill stations, markets, and malls, and aiding the spread of the virus at an alarming rate. The government recently rolled portfolios post the criticism over handling the COVID-19 situation and reshuffled and reorganized to tackle the virus in a better way. Still, there is hardly an effective way to handle the complacency and callousness the public has displayed in the past few weeks.

The Centre has ordered states and Union territories to accelerate vaccination and reopen in a “carefully calibrated" manner. It expressed concern over markets and public places crowding, following the easing of curbs. An expert warned that the third wave could hit India in six to eight weeks if COVID-appropriate behaviour is not followed. Despite warnings, there have been overcrowding incidents in galore.

Hill Stations Are Overflowing

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There was public outrage after pictures and videos surfaced on social media of traffic congestion on the way to famous hill stations like Manali. Large numbers of people, some maskless, were seen visiting shopping districts with no social distancing. Health ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said that tourists visiting hill stations were not abiding by COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. He warned that it could nullify the gains made in managing the pandemic so far.

He further stated that the Centre might reintroduce restraints if people do not follow pandemic guidelines. Highlighting that the pandemic was not yet over, he described the images of many people going to popular hill stations as “frightening."

Parks Closed Again

Many of the parks in the hill station of Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu were shut again on July 6. This came a day after they opened up amidst lockdown relaxations in the state, as reported by The News Minute. Local authorities say that this decision was taken due to congestion by tourists, who were not careful.

Long Lines for Liquor

There was heavy overcrowding in many liquor stores across the country. Bar and Bench reported that the Kerala High Court had given directions to the State to issue a comprehensive report concerning the failure to follow Covid protocol outside the state-run Beverage Corporation (Bevco) liquor outlets in Kerala. The Court also asked the Excise Commissioner to submit a complete statement regarding the failure to follow Covid Protocol guidelines in these shops.

Flight and Airport Packed

The flights and crowding at airports also dramatically increased in the past few weeks. With Covid cases on a sharp rise again, fines are being given for breaking social distancing norms at the Delhi airport. Over the past few days, several passengers have accused that norms such as wearing masks and keeping social distancing are being overlooked. However, what was shocking to see was the flouting of rules at local markets in Delhi, where people were seen maskless.

Markets Filled To The Brim

Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) notified shop owners in the Laxmi Nagar market to briefly close their businesses for alleged negligence to adhere to social distancing and Covid-19 regulations. At least three more major markets in Delhi have been given notices and advised for similar purposes either by the police or district administration in the last ten days.

Notable among markets that have got notices are Kamla Nagar, Sadar Bazar, and Sarojini Nagar. The main markets at Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh and meat shops all see people crowding around, as reported by the Deccan Chronicle.

Crammed Malls

Shopping malls are crowded even as governmental rules on pandemic control have followed. Despite the fear of the third wave, women, children, and others are careless about the impending danger. They are present in large numbers in most of these shopping complexes. Officials are on a massive campaign advising people to maintain social distance, remain at home, and wear masks correctly. Crowding is more at malls, garment shops, and other public areas due to the marriage season, and other seasonal programmes have also increased. In addition, women are bringing their children with them, who aren’t wearing face masks.

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first published:July 09, 2021, 11:20 IST