The Mumbai Police drew the lines, literally, on roads and footpaths leading to grocery stores on Wednesday, making sure that citizens rushing to buy essential items maintain social distancing in the wake of the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
The demarcation drive began even as a large section of people pressed the panic button following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Tuesday night announcement of a nationwide lockdown for 21 days, and thronged grocery stories to buy essentials.
“To ensure strict implementation of social distancing to prevent the spread of Covid-19, all 94 police stations in the city have been ordered to make marks on footpaths or roads outside grocery stores. It has been done to ensure safety of citizens who are out to buy essential commodities,” said Mumbai Police spokesperson and deputy commissioner of police (operations) Pranaya Ashok.
The top brass of the city police held a meeting after the PM’s speech and the decision to mark the roads and footpaths for disciplined queues was taken, Mumbai Police officials aware of the developments said.
“Our teams are present in market areas and are asking people to stand in queues while maintaining a distance of four feet. We have also asked vendors to maintain a fair distance between their stalls. Public announcements are being made to maintain social distancing and to disperse (people) soon after they are done shopping. We have not lodged any FIR so far,” said George Fernandes, senior police inspector, Malad police station in Malad (W).
Both shopkeepers and citizens welcomed the move.
Motiram Chaudhary, 40, the owner of Balaji super market in Andheri Marol pump house area, said: “Police gave us this idea for smooth selling of essential items without any crowd or mess. We are following it.”
Ramesh Shirke, a Jogeshwari resident out to buy grocery items, said, “It’s a good move by the police to ensure safe distance between the people for preventing the spread of coronavirus.”
All zonal deputy commissioners of police (DCPs) have been asked to supervise and ensure proper implementation of the drive. All DCPs in the city are also given free hand to come out with other effective measures to ensure minimum inconvenience to the citizens during the lockdown and strict implementation of social distancing, a senior police officer said.
Mohankumar Dahikar, DCP zone XI, said: “Locals are slowly cooperating with us. We are continuously patrolling places that tend to get crowded, and are ensuring that people are made aware of the consequences. Not only us, even small grocery shops are making announcements to maintain social distancing.”
DCP Pranaya Ashok said the city police are also coordinating with all e-commerce platforms and super markets to ensure that their home delivery services of essential commodities are not hit.