Traders brace for third wave as Omicron cases rise in Delhi

On Tuesday, the minister said that the Omicron variant had not spread in the community so far and the situation was under control

New Delhi: 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.

"Â…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.

Even though the crowds have gone down 20-25 per cent in the area, he added that people were rushing to do their shopping now for the next wedding season in case another lockdown is announced.

"Most of the buyers are those who want to finish their shopping now. We too our apprehensive about another lockdown since we have just started picking up business," he said.

The official added that the association has also requested the authorities to increase the number of civil defence volunteers and police personnel in the area.

"Shopkeepers can only manage people inside the shops, there are barely any policemen in the market. If people see police, they put on their masks. The authorities need to ensure that proper norms are followed," he added.

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