Amid coronavirus outbreak, weekend spots in Mumbai see low turnout
Most Mumbaikars skipped weekend beach, shopping visits; traders whose businesses have been affected have demanded tax relief
With the government asking people to stay indoors and step out only in case of an emergency, many weekend spots in the city saw a low turnout on Saturday.
Juhu Beach, one of the most popular haunts during the weekend, saw only pockets of visitors. Sanjay Gupta, a gola and falooda seller, who carried out business wearing a mask, said, "The crowd is just 20 per cent of what we notice every weekend. People are taking precautions."
Dr Abhay Kumar, a resident of Navi Mumbai, had dropped by at the beach with his family. "My sister is visiting from her hometown and she wanted to visit the beach. To be safe, we did not take the train, and came by cab."
The scene looked dull at Carter Road too. Hardly anyone, except for college students, were scene strolling on the promenade. Ambika Vishnoi, a resident of Delhi, on a holiday in the city, said, "Mumbaikars are not as jittery as the folks back home. People are more relaxed here, and that's a good thing. There is no need to create unnecessary panic."
Bandra Fort, which is a stone's throw away, was comparatively crowded. But, Sanjay Kumar, the security guard, said that it's still not as busy as usual. "Usually, the fort garden is completely packed with people on weekends. It's not the case today."
An elderly couple from Borivli, Chandrakant Jasani and his wife, who made a brief visit to the fort, looked unperturbed. "We had gone to Holy Family Hospital and we were told that we would get our reports in an hour. So, we thought of spending some time here," said Jasani.
Popular street markets in the city such as Bandra's Hill Road and Colaba Causeway also didn't see many shoppers. Shopkeepers claimed that business was down by 50 to 60 per cent.
Akbar Khan, a shopkeeper who has a clothes store at Hill Road, said, "Business has been down for a long time and now, with corona, the store has not even received 30 per cent business."
At Colaba Causeway, many people were seen wearing masks. Twenty-one-year-old Aishwarya Salunkhe and her friend, Nisha Fefar weighed the risks before coming for a shopping trip on Saturday. "My parents were reluctant to let me go at first. But they realised that it is everywhere now, and asked me to take all precautions. We are a little nervous about taking the train, but we didn't want to miss the chance to go shopping," said Salunkhe.
Aishwarya Salunkhe, shopper at Colaba
Shops selling scarves, jewellery and footwear that are otherwise be bustling, had few takers on Saturday. Mohammed Sharafat, 35, who owns a popular street jewellery stall in Colaba, said that he had bought himself a mask. "But I can't wear it all the time, because customers won't understand what I'm saying," he said.
Due to poor business, the traders association has demanded an income tax and GST holiday. In a letter to the government, the traders stated that business is down by more than 80 per cent, following the precautionary measures announced by the government. Viren Shah, Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA), said, "People are hardly venturing out to buy, except for essential items and groceries. Hence, we are seeking some tax relief."
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