Panic buying in Delhi ahead of lockdown, people stock groceries, other essential items

New Delhi: People flocked the markets to stock groceries and other essentials, and ran other errands soon after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a week-long lockdown amid rising COVID-19 cases.

Long queues were seen outside stores at many places in Delhi soon after the announcement.

While a few anticipated that the lockdown may be extended further, others did not want to step out during the restricted period and hence wanted to be better prepared.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a six-day lockdown from 10 pm on Monday till 5 am on April 26 which he said was necessary to deal with the rising number of COVID-19 cases as the city’s health system was stretched to its limits.

Shiv Takkar, a 30-year-old law student residing in Lajpat Nagar, said although he was anyway coming to buy some essentials and medicines, the moment he got a message from a friend about the lockdown, he thought of fetching whatever is needed immediately.

“The situation has not improved a bit a year after. We did not have beds in hospitals then, we do not have beds now. So, it becomes difficult to trust the government, especially when it is an emergency,” he said.

Rajbir Singh, a 58-year-old employee at a mineral water distribution company, said, “Shopkeepers tend to increase the prices of items when such a situation arises. Last year, the prices of hand sanitiser and floor cleaners went through the roof. Items like elaichi and liquorice, (which are used to prepare a concoction to boost immunity) weren’t even available in many shops.”

Another man, who did not wish to be named said, he remembered standing in a long queue at a pharmacy for two hours in April last year to buy a pair of gloves and some medicines.

“Lockdown is harsh on everybody,” he said.

Deepti Nainwal, a resident of Dwarka, said the moment she and her husband heard about the lockdown on Monday morning, they reached the grocery shop immediately where people were already standing in queue.

“There was panic among people. We just bought the minimal required grocery for us. The cases have been increasing due to which we do not want to go out of the house,” she said.

Amit Sharma, a resident of Shahdara, said, “We have read that the new strain is more dangerous as compared to the previous one. Me and family have not been exposed to this virus yet. We are storing the necessary items for one week and will avoid to step out of the house. My mother is a senior citizen and we are more worried about her.”

Customers with lists of essentials were seen waiting outside stores in Krishna Market area of Lajpat Nagar 1 as well.

“As soon as the announcement was made, I decided to stock up essential household items and grocery. Even though it’s a six-day lockdown, what if the government decides to extend it further. As cases are on the rise, it’s better to come out once and all to buy essentials,” said Chitra Vaidyanathan.

Jyoti Singh, another customer standing in queue at a grocery shop here, said this time, the priority is to stock up sanitisers as much as we can more than anything else. “Cases are on the rise plus what if there is lockdown in the entire country. Plus farmers are protesting. So, what if we run out of groceries. It’s wise to stock up essentials,” she said.

According to the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) order, essential services will be allowed during the lockdown, but private offices and other establishments like shops, malls, weekly markets, manufacturing units, educational and coaching institutes, cinema halls, restaurants, bars, assembly halls, auditoriums, public parks, sport complexes, gyms, spas, barber shops, saloons and beauty parlours will remain closed.

Delhi on Sunday recorded the biggest jump in its daily COVID-19 tally with 25,462 fresh cases, while the positivity rate shot up to 29.74 per cent — meaning almost every third sample being tested in the city is turning out to be positive.

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