BMC asks shopkeepers to shun customers violating COVID-19 norms in Bhubaneswar

Bhubaneswar: The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Saturday has instructed all market associations and shopkeepers under its jurisdiction in the Capital City of Odisha to strictly follow COVID-19 guidelines and ensure their customers follow the same while coming to their stores for buying goods. The civic body has also asked the shopkeepers that they shouldn’t entertain a customer, if he or she doesn’t obey the rules such as maintaining enough social distance or not wearing masks.

The BMC has laid emphasis on scaling up the precautionary measures after a meeting was held with all market associations’ representatives this morning under the chairmanship of BMC Commissioner Prem Chandra Chaudhary, and in presence of Sudhanshu Sarangi, Commissioner of Police, Bhubaneswar-Cuttack and Bhubaneswar Covid-19 observers, Anu Garg and N Tirumala Nayak, among other officials of the civic body.

Saying chances of COVID-19 infection can be reduced significantly in the city if both the shopkeepers and customers strictly follow Govt guidelines, BMC Commissioner Prem Chandra Chaudhary said there will be strict enforcement and heavy penalty on roadside eateries and fast-food shops if they don’t discourage people eating on streets and encourage takeaways instead.

“Takeaways to be encouraged instead of dine-In. Keeping the overall health of public in mind, we have taken this decision,” Chaudhary explained. “Maintaining hygiene and safety is the top priority”.

Similarly, Police Commissioner Sudhanshu Sarangi has advised the representatives of several market associations to be innovative and come up with new idea on how business activity can be continued with strict adherence of COVID-19 guidelines by customers. “Market association representative can think of several ways such as restructuring of markets or creating a holding area or waiting zone in front of a big store or outlet to regulate the crowd during this pandemic to control the spread of infection among public,” Sarangi advised.

This apart, the civic body has also urged the market association representatives to break away from traditional way of managing markets, crowd and adopt some innovative and best practices in terms of handling customers, maintaining hygiene inside the markets, which can set examples and become a model for others.

Anu Garg too stressed strict adherence of COVID-19 guidelines by both shopkeepers and customers to control the spread of coronavirus infection in the city. “Each market association has to ensure the COVID-19 rules are strictly being followed in their market. And, shopkeepers should not entertain customers if they found not wearing masks and maintain enough social distancing,” said Garg, adding “they (market associations) should promote and encourage best Covid-19 management model at market places”.

Likewise, Labour Commissioner and Bhubaneswar COVID Observer N. Thirumala Naik said all shopkeepers should and must tell their customers to maintain social distancing and wearing masks while coming to their stores to purchase anything.

The market association representatives have welcomed the decisions and measures advised by the civic body in order ensure strict adherence of COVID-19 guidelines in their respective markets. They also talked about the issues they are facing.

“The meeting was really good and extremely important. We have told our all shopkeepers to strictly follow the government rules regarding COVID-19 as advised by BMC today. We will implement no masks, no goods and no social distancing, no good to customers rule in our market,” said Gayadhara Swain, President of Unit – 1 Market Association.

He also urged the BMC officials to be stricter and impose heavy penalty on some unruly customers who never follow rules despite repeated warning by shopkeepers in markets.

Representatives of all major market associations under BMC jurisdictions such as Unit -1, Unit -2, Unit – 4 among others were present in the meeting.

Following the Unlock 3.0 of the Odisha Government, the BMC has allowed markets and shops in the Capital City to function for full working hours with certain conditions, except Saturday and Sunday till August 31.

However, shopping malls, cinema halls and swimming polls will remain closed for the public till August 31.

On August 1 and 2, the Civic Body has allowed markets and shops to stay open from 6 AM to 1 PM. And, all other days, shops and markets will be opened from 5 AM to 9 PM, except Saturday and Sunday till August 31.

All market associations will have to scale up the precautionary measures and the below mentioned measures without fail:

-: Permanent marking in circle/square shape in a distance gap of 2 mtrs for customers queue
-: Gap between vending stall, a minimum of 10 metres
-: Frequent hand washing
-: Wearing mask and gloves
-: Packing of customer material and keeping in a place for pick-up by customer to avoid closesness

-: Encouraging customers to go for more and more digital transactions

Besides, regular raids will be conducted at market places across the city and shops can closed or sealed, if the shop owners are found violating the guidelines. The Civic Body will impose penalty of Rs 5000 for not wearing mask and other penal actions as per the law.

Among other officials who were present are Surath Chandra Mallick, Additional Commissioner, Abani Kanta Patnaik, Additional Commissioner, Suvendu Sahoo, Deputy Commissioner, BMC and Harish Chandra Nayak, Secretary, BDA.

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