Coronavirus outbreak: Andheri residents defy lockdown, cops concerned

Updated: 03 April, 2020 08:10 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

Say people in Lokhandwala, Oshiwara crowd often and loiter on the streets despite being told to maintain social distancing, stay indoors

Police beef up patrolling in Lokhandwala-Oshiwara area
Police beef up patrolling in Lokhandwala-Oshiwara area

Several residents in Andheri are violating the social distancing instructions while queuing up outside general stores, obstructing the government's efforts to contain the spread of Coronavirus, said police. Since yesterday, police have been patrolling the Lokhandwala-Oshiwara area frequently to prevent people from crowding.

Apart from those who have come out to buy essentials, people with no reason have also been found on the streets, falsely claiming that they left home to buy groceries, said police. Senior Police Inspector Dayanand Bangar said officers have been visiting general stores and asking shopkeepers as well as residents to maintain distance.
"We have to disperse crowds whenever they gather in large numbers outside the general stores, without exercising social distancing," he said. Bangar added that police have also been using loudspeakers to appeal to the residents to follow the guidelines of the lockdown. "We have not told the general stores to shut down… but have asked them to draw circles three feet apart from each outside the shops to ensure that people are maintaining distance. However, they don't listen. We have to constantly disperse the crowd so that the number of people out on the streets is less."

When mid-day visited these areas, only a few stores, including pharmacies and bakeries, were open and five to six people were seen standing close together outside these shops. They were neither standing in the markings nor maintaining a safe distance. Some shops have don't even marked circles outside their stores.

"The crowd has been gradually reducing since Wednesday because of police patrolling," said Bangar. "People say that they have come out of their homes to buy medicines or essential supplies, but are still loitering on the streets. We even had a meeting with some of the general and medical store owners a few days back and explained to them the concept of social distancing, and still they are not listening. Residents need to stay at home and get out only when it's urgent."

Like several societies, people here should also assign one person the job to get the groceries or other essential items, thus reducing the number of people out on the streets together.

Dhaval Shah, founder of Lokhandwala-Oshiwara Citizens Association (LOCA), said: "Shopkeepers need to be strict about social distancing by making circles outside and allow only a few customers at a time so as to avoid the risk of spread of Coronavirus." "There are a lot of people using the excuse of going to a pharmacy and instead venturing out to see what's happening on the streets."

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First Published: 03 April, 2020 07:40 IST

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