SOPs go down the drain as people throng markets

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LAHORE: Despite the tall claims, the district administration and Punjab government have badly failed to enforce anti-coronavirus SOPs in local markets.

The scribe observed that the Ichra Market, Township Market, Hall Road Market, Barkat Market, Main Market, Gulberg, Shadman Market, DHA Y Block and H Block Markets, Anarkali, and markets in old Lahore area remained flooded with people despite two-hour extension in their timing.

A vendor at Hall Road Market told this scribe that encroachments were one of the reasons for the crowdedness. “There are many vendors who have encroached the places in front of shops and other places due to which the entire market gets crowded. Most of these are new vendors who have opened these temporary stalls (tharas) during this time to earn something. Customers are also flowing into the market and many do not follow the SOPs. We usually tell customers to wear masks before coming into the shop but many vendors accept customers without masks as well. In these days no one wants to lose a customer.”

A shopkeeper in Shadman was of the view that people themselves should think of their safety. “We can only tell them not to enter without masks. I get customers from a well-educated social class, but they also do not follow the SOPs.’

It is pertinent to mention here that after the opening of markets there is a marked increase in the corona cases. In Lahore, the cases reported were 16,388.

Mian Aslam Iqbal Minister Industries said, “We had a meeting with the traders and it was decided that each trader would be responsible for his markets and shops to follow the SOPs. We are making surprise visits in the city with police and district administration and those shops which are not following the SOPs, we will seal the entire market because of those shops. If the customer is not wearing a mask it is the responsibility of the shopkeeper to provide him with a mask and if they cannot then they should keep the shop closed. The timings of malls and markets will not be extending. These will be closed at sunset and we are formulating rules for it.”

On the other hand, Deputy Commissioner Afzaal Danish said, “We have sealed 218 shops who were not following the SOPs. Those not wearing masks are being fined. Our teams are there out in the field and doing their best to implement the SOPs.”

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