Coronavirus outbreak: Social distancing goes for a toss as couples, friends come together

Updated: Mar 21, 2020, 08:24 IST | Diwakar Sharma, Anurag Kamble | Mumbai

Despite lockdown call, many Mumbaikars seem to be oblivious to the health crisis the country is currently facing

Couples, friends and senior citizens were spotted at Bandra Bandstand, Marine Drive and near Haji Ali Dargah enjoying some quality time even as the government has asked to practice social-distancing in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak. Pics/ Atul Kamble/ Bipin Kokate
Couples, friends and senior citizens were spotted at Bandra Bandstand, Marine Drive and near Haji Ali Dargah enjoying some quality time even as the government has asked to practice social-distancing in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak. Pics/ Atul Kamble/ Bipin Kokate

Even as Mumbai is set to shut down from today, couples and friends continue to be quite oblivious of the Coronavirus pandemic, which has almost brought the entire country to a standstill. As part of a test-drive conducted by mid-day, many people were seen gathering at various spots in the city, including at some coffee shops and bakeries, to kill the boredom of social distancing. Many couples were spotted at the Bandra Bandstand and Marine Drive, busy chatting and getting cosy with no fear of contracting the deadly disease. Though many couples refused to speak when mid-day approached them, several others said that they hardly get time to meet each other due to their extended working hours, and were finally being able to make it.

'What to do at home?'

Sanjay Mishra and his friend Namrata Gurav work together in a jewellery shop, which has been shut till March 31. They were spotted chilling at the Bandra Bandstand. "Though we work together, we hardly get time to meet and talk. Since the jewellery shop is shut till the end of this month, I am getting bored at home. So I asked Namrata if we could meet and she agreed. Since all the multiplexes are shut, we chose this place to sit and chat," said Mishra. "It feels like heaven, as I have never been given such a long leave in the last six years of work. What will I do at home?" said Namrata, who had a face mask on.

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A young couple – Altaf Ansari and Neha Shaikh – who had travelled to Carter Road from Sion, was not aware of what Coronavirus is. "I have been roaming freely and nothing will happen to us. The government order cannot stop me from meeting my girlfriend. We have been coming here since years," said Ansari. Shaikh added, "I have covered my face to keep the virus away."

Some other couples and a family along with their kids were seen roaming at Bandstand and outside actor Shah Rukh Khan's bungalow, Mannat. "I am a dance teacher and all my the classes are on hold for now. I can't sit at home till March 31. It is better to spend time with my girlfriend instead of sitting at home," said Prashant Pawar, who was enjoying the evening with his friend Manvi Parmar.

'Not disturbing anyone'

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"I live in Borivali and took a local train to reach Bandra. He (Prashant) picked me up from the station and we reached here. We don't know whether the government has restricted couples to meet but we are not disturbing anyone," said Parmar.

Two Canadian women were seen entering the Juhu-Chowpatty beach, which has been kept clear of visitors to avoid mass gatherings. Despite police restriction, the duo – Marie Mortal and Gwen Robins – were spotted venturing into the sea. A cop present at the spot stopped them saying a prohibitory order was in place. However, later they left the place. A coffee shop at BJ Road, Bandra West, was also operational with a few patrons enjoying drinks and snacks on Friday. "The business is down by 50 per cent. Customers have become cautious after the Coronavirus outbreak," said the store's manager, Ajay Soni, who added that no order has been issued to shut the outlet. "But it may be closed from Saturday onwards till further notice," he further said.

It's selfie time

Devendra Singh was spotted at Marine Drive along with four of his friends. They were busy clicking selfies when mid-day approached them. "We have been at home for the past two to three days and are extremely bored now. In a day or two we will go back to our hometown Uttar Pradesh, so we decided to have a good time before that," the friends said. When asked whether they were afraid of the epidemic, they said, "We don't think it will happen to us."

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When mid-day approached two senior citizens, who were sitting on the promenade, and asked them as to why they had ventured out when the government has asked elderly people to be more careful, the 77-year-old woman said, "I have diabetes so I need to take a walk everyday. It's a routine I follow and cannot skip it. I take care of my health. In fact, before coming here, I had lemon juice which acts as a disinfectant."

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Another 84-year-old woman sitting with her said, "Our prime minister has asked for Janta Curfew and I am going to follow that. Besides this, I chant 'Om' everyday, which has its effect on the virus."

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