Traders brace for third wave as Omicron cases rise in Delhi

New Delhi, Dec 18 (PTI): With the gradual spread of Omicron variant of coronavirus in the national capital, the impact of dwindling number of shoppers is not lost on traders as they get ready to face an impending third wave of the pandemic.
Twelve more people tested positive for the Omicron variant in Delhi on Friday, taking their number to 22, and officials said most of them are “fully vaccinated” and “asymptomatic”.
Sanjay Bhargava, president, Chandni Chowk Vyapar Mandal said they are “waiting and watching” for now, even as they have requested authorities to increase the police presence in the area.
” We have verbally requested the authorities to increase the number of police personnel in the area who can enforce the Covid protocol among those taking it casually. Mostly hawkers and beggars do not follow any such norms,” he told PTI.
While observing a “visible decrease in footfall”, he said the market association will soon be sending circulars to shopkeepers in the area to enforce Covid protocols.
“We will soon be asking all our traders to enforce Covid protocols in their shops. In the last 10 days, there is visible decrease in footfall in the market. The business is slowing down due to the increasing cases of Omicron in the city,” Bhargava added.
Atul Bhargava, president, National Delhi Traders Association said even though the risk of a crowded and congested area is small in Connaught Place (CP), they have already sent out circulars to all traders. “We have asked them to strictly adhere to Covid protocols in the shops like sanitising, insisting on wearing masks and taking temperature of people coming in. Since CP is a large and open area, it is not much of a problem. And with police presence, people usually follow Covid protocols,” he said.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had on Thursday said many international travellers were turning out Covid positive upon arrival at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here.
On Tuesday, he had said that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus had not spread in the community so far and the situation was under control.
In view of the threat posed by the Omicron variant, the Delhi health department Friday evening issued an order directing hospitals to augment human resource, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, sanitation and security staff, on contract or through existing outsourcing agencies against the vacant posts and extra 25 per cent of the sanctioned strength till March 31.
Traders in Sarojini Nagar, another bustling market area of south Delhi, have been asked to paste social distancing circles outside and follow all Covid protocols inside their shops.
Ashok Randhawa, president, Sarojini Nagar Mini Market Traders Association, said they have sent out a circular asking shop helpers to get their second doses as soon as possible.
“Almost all our traders are fully vaccinated, those who are not have been asked to do it as soon as possible. We have told everyone to follow Covid norms inside the shops,” Randhawa told PTI.

 Aadhere to norms strictly: Mumbai civic chief

Mumbai civic chief IS Chahal on Saturday said ward-level squads will be formed to take action against COVID-19 protocol violators. Amid the scare from the new Omicron variant of coronavirus and the Christmas-New Year festival season round the corner, he said people in the metropolis must avoid crowding in hotels, restaurants, cinemas, malls and asserted that attendance caps in place for marriages and other functions will have to be adhered to strictly. While the attendance limit is 50 per cent of capacity of confined/closed spaces, it is 25 per cent of capacity in open places, while any gathering of over 1,000 people will require the prior permission of the Local Disaster Management Authority, the civic chief said.
“Use a mask properly, get fully vaccinated. A new variant of the COVID-19 virus called Omicron is spreading rapidly around the world, putting a strain on the health system. Despite repeated appeals by the government and administration to prevent a probable third wave, it has been observed that guidelines are not being followed properly in most places, especially in wedding functions and other ceremonies,” Chahal said.
“Those violating COVID-19 rules will be dealt with severely by civic ward level teams as well as the police,” the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation chief said, adding that the outbreak situation in the metropolis was under control at present due to the cooperation of citizens as well as the excellent management and speed of the vaccination drive.
The spread of Omicron had once again forced several nations to impose lockdown and other prohibitory measures, and the Union and state governments were continuously asking people to be vigilant to prevent a similar situation in India, he said.
In a veiled reference to Bollywood parties amid reports that some actors had contracted the virus, Chahal said celebrities and eminent personalities. who have an influence on society, must act accordingly and be aware of issues.

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