Chennai: Kumaran Silks, popular textiles, and garments store in Chennai was sealed by the city’s civic body on Tuesday after a video revealing a huge crowd gathered inside the multi-storeyed showroom ahead of the festive season but in violation of social distancing norms.
“A shop in T Nagar has been sealed today since they permitted overcrowding & didn’t follow the COVID-19 safety protocols. Other such shops, which don’t follow the protocols shall be closed too. Shop owners & public are requested to strictly follow safety protocols.” the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) said in a tweet. The video that led to the showroom being sealed showed hundreds of people with no social distancing being held. Several people in the showroom were not wearing face masks either.
“These two are recipes for disaster. There are small incidences of non-adherence, especially by bigger stores and establishments, that is very painful to see. They ought to give or provide all customers to wear a mask. They can’t allow 500 or 1,000 customers at a time. They ought to regulate,” G Prakash, the GCC Commissioner, told. The Tamil Nadu government had earlier released SOPs while allowing standalone shops to reopen as part of a phased unlocking of the economy. These SOPs include controlling entry to prevent overcrowding, use of sanitizers and face masks, and maintaining social distancing.
A senior officer told that individual chambers or segments of large multi-storeyed showrooms can have a maximum of five customers at a time. However, many allege the authorities are selective in choosing when to crack down on such cases. Last week when hundreds of party workers flocked to the ruling AIADMK’s headquarters and twice dotted the road in violation of prohibitory orders, the police turned mute spectators. Nobody was charged. The DMK and Congress too staged protests violating prohibitory orders and social distancing.
Chennai’s coronavirus cases have been falling in recent weeks but, with the festive season coming up, crowds are expected in shopping hubs and major markets. Officials have insisted people to shop only if necessary, but it is unclear, at this stage, how significant these pleas are going to be. The city has, so far, reported over 6.9 lakh confirmed cases, of which 1.9 are active and around 10,000 are deaths related to the virus.