In Focus

Circles ensure 'social distancing' at Colaba Market

By Payal Jha

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the 21-day nation-wide, total and complete lockdown on 24 March 2020 at 8 pm in his address to the nation, citizens weren't sure how to implement and what to expect. On Day 2 of the world's largest lockdown to contain the Coronavirus outbreak that commenced at 00:00 hours on 25 March 2020, India looked prepared and citizens more than willing to practice 'social distancing' to break the cycle of the infection. Even the perennially-crowded Colaba and its by-lanes were not far behind.

Colaba shoppers stand in designated circles at a safe distance in Colaba Market
After the initial hours of panic-buying on the night after Prime Minister's announcement of the lockdown, residents soon realised essential items and services will be available throughout the lockdown, thereby restoring normalcy. In order to observe 'social distancing', several shopkeepers and vendors began ensuring customers to stand at safe distances and not crowd when they come out to shop. However, on 26 March evening, they found circles drawn approximately a metre apart from each other on the road in lines leading to general stores making their job even easier.

Customers stand at a distance at Maharashtra Medical and General Stores in Colaba Market.
Owner Paras Jain feels this will go a long way in ensuring social distancing

Maharashtra Medical and General Stores owner Paras Jain felt the move was timely and extremely important to ensure social distancing is maintained. "I am glad the authorities have done this. Now my staff and I can deal safely with customers as there will now be no crowding, especially at the counter. This will go a long way in ensuring that the Coronavirus doesn't spread and nor does the associated chaos."

In Colaba Market, grocery stores, chemist shops, vegetable vendors, etc., even ensured a staff member stood outside each shop to ensure buyers do not panic and stand systematically. Now, with the marked circles drawn at distances, it's even easier. "Since morning, I was apprehensive to step out to buy groceries. The crowds in Colaba Market made it difficult to maintain social distancing. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find circles drawn outside shops. Now, I can shop safely," said Colaba resident Najma Sheikh with a sigh of relief.

Why, the circles ensured shoppers even at small vendor stalls stood disciplined

On the second day of the lockdown that has been strictly enforced by authorities in Colaba through nakabandi, public announcements, one of the biggest concern was ensuring social distancing whenever residents stepped out to buy essential items. The collective efforts and firm resolve of residents, shopkeepers and the authorities in Colaba have set the perfect example in these trying times.