Shillong: After over two months, shops at Khyndailad, also popularly known as Police Bazar in Shillong, which remained closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, finally came back to life on Thursday.
Meghalaya government recently eased the restrictions amid Unlock 1.0 and allowed the reopening of all shops, excluding beauty parlours and barber shops, in the state.
On Thursday, EastMojo visited Police Bazar to check out the situation and to see if the shops are maintaining social distancing and other norms.
Just like the public transport in the state that have been plying on an odd-even basis, the shops at Police Bazar have also been allotted numbers.
Four numbers have been allotted to a row of shops and the ones that opened on Thursday were numbered 2. Shops numbered 3 would be open on Friday, 4 on Saturday, and so on.
Ramesh Mordani, a shop owner, told EastMojo, “Earlier, there was a confusion concerning which shops would be open but things were rectified on Tuesday. Once the numbers were allotted to the shops, things became easier. Number 2 is today [Thursday], so we opened our shop.”
However, Shillong’s famous Delhi Misthan, which would normally be jam-packed, saw barely two to three customers waiting to pack their favourite sweets on Thursday.
A man holding a hand sanitizer waiting to drop the liquid on people’s hands entering the store or shops is now the new norm and no longer alien to them.
Likewise, a man was seen screening the people entering a store keeping a watch of how many people are entering the shop in a bid to avoid crowding.
While a few shops were able to keep a track of how many people were entering the store; one of the electronic shops at Police Bazar could not keep up with the rush.
Several people thronged Bhajanlal to purchase either mobile phones or televisions. Chairs were placed for people to sit apart, but customers failed to maintain social distancing.
While speaking with EastMojo, store manager of Bhajanlal Ali Hasaan said, “We arranged a coupon system and advised customers to maintain social distancing, but they didn’t seem to listen. It is challenging because the customer has to decide as a family and they want to enter the store together.”
The person at the entrance pouring the sanitizer was even seen questioning people what they are looking out at the store, so that they can inform them if they don’t have the item in stock.
When asked if social distancing is possible with so many customers in the store, David Mawlong, a customer at Bhajanlal, said, “I have visited many stores today and social distancing is impossible. What they could do is have very strict norms and allow only one customer at a time. I came along with a friend and both of us were allowed to enter the store.”
Mawlong added that the high pricing of goods is another new challenge. “Prior to the lockdown, we used go to shops and we were able to bargain easily, but what is happening now is that we are unable to bargain because of fixed rates. Due to items unavailable in the market, they are getting a chance to loot people,” added Mawlong.
NGO leader Treibor Suchen, who had come out to purchase his essentials, expressed concern on how people have forgotten to maintain social distancing norms.
Suchen said, “Some people have forgotten the norms and they seem to have forgotten that the virus is still very much present. The lockdown has been lifted for some reason and people should also start getting used to the norms set up by the health department.”
What remains to be seen is the decision made by the government on Wednesday to allow the reopening of shopping malls/complexes from June 8.
Will the people coming out for shopping be responsible citizens and work along with the government, or will the government impose more restrictions, this remains to be seen.