The State Home Department devised a schedule of opening of vegetable vendors, grocery shops and wholesalers in respect of districts where curfew has been imposed which will be operational from June 16, 2021. With good intent and some in depth calculation on its part, the state administration decided to open sections of the market to all districts; people will be allowed to buy household items and stuff of absolute requirement although strict restrictions will remain as precaution. The small window for shopping is a concern however necessary it is to control public gathering over a long period of time. The relaxation in curfew and temporary opening of the markets after weeks of total curfew is well deserved and the public should have the sense to welcome it. The long lists of important stuff to be bought are probably playing like a video in their minds after long repetitions and their feet are probably getting edgy to step outside. Now, we cannot fault the administration for the strict time limitation and neither can we stop the imagination of a mad rush of excited and newly unfettered people to the marketplace. The pertinent question remains on how to stop a helpful gesture of opening the market from becoming a potential catastrophe of mass scale community transmission during the act of reaping the rewards of weeks of enduring forced solitary confinement like situation during the curfew.
Here, the extensive and committed efforts of the law enforcement agencies who were responsible till now for maintenance of public order in the street are expected to yet again rise to the occasion. They should be vigil to check the entry points of the market for miscreants without proper mouth and nose cover. In fact, it would be fruitful to impose a regulation of double masking for one and all. While its real advantage is debated, double masking does certainly arouse a psychological awareness on the need to be committed to covering the parts of our face almost all the time. If possible, the administration should make it mandatory for people to carry hand sanitisers with them as it satisfies the demand to sanitise our hands all the time to check spread. More importantly, the agents of the administration overlooking the situation should take note of the casual behaviour of wearing the mask incorrectly prevalent among our society and be on the lookout for the offenders. If possible, anybody above 65 years, pregnant women or feeble individuals should not be allowed the rights to marketing.
In fact, the responsibility is on the shoulders of one and all who ventures into the market. In the upcoming days let us all practice the SOPs and social behaviors to stop letting the market places become the hotbed of infection of the Covid-19 virus. This foreboding is based on our lack of seriousness and readiness to drop off guard at the slightest opportunity as evident during some prominent activities happening in Imphal and surrounding areas in the last few weeks. The sweeping security net set to prevent people straying into the streets have become porous, maybe due to other important assignments. Instead of living by the rules in their absence too, vehicles were taking advantage and breaching the restriction. Their numbers reached such a point there were literally traffic jams in many nodal points of the city. What can we expect from our own people who have not conformed to becoming law abiding even after hearing the cries of the hundreds who have lost their loved ones and situations of despair everywhere. Judging from the past experience, the crowd and vehicles will expectedly increase manifold during curfew relaxation and many people will arrive at the markets with brazen behaviour totally unconvinced that they could be the next prospective hosts of the Coronavirus. The common attributes of the new variants of the Coronavirus are the high viral loads and increased ability to cause infection. A complex situation evolves when you combine this fact along with the unsettling common finding during a series of random testing all over the state that a high percentage of people roaming in the streets were found positive of the virus. Now, such groups of people are a ticking time bomb and based on the absence of any successful tracking process many of them could be waiting with a surprise for you at the market.