Anticipating a complete lockdown, many Mumbaikars slipped into panic buying mode on Tuesday to stock fruits, vegetables, alcohol, medicines and other essential items. Several people said that they were making full use of the two public holidays to stock necessary items in case a lockdown is imposed in Maharashtra.
Throwing caution to the wind, some people flocked outside departmental stores and crowded markets. Shopkeepers and traders said that the rush was more on Tuesday compared to Monday. "Initially we were not very much concerned. We saw our neighbours stock up goods yesterday so we also came out today," said Amir Deshmukh, a Borivali resident. “There was a complete lockdown last weekend. Monday was a working day so today and tomorrow being public holidays is a good option for us to carry out last minute shopping," said Sanjay Kale, a Malad resident and government worker.
Apart from dry food and snacks, people were stocking eggs, cereal, rice and pulses. Shopkeepers feared that if panic buying continues, their stocks may get exhausted. "We don't know how the new lockdown will be. Last time, the supply chain was affected severely which led to a surge in prices," said a shopkeeper. People are buying products in excessive quantities,” said another trader.
On Tuesday, civic marshals were deployed outside departmental stores and market areas. BMC officials said that on Monday they received videos and photos of people crowding shops and markets. This was a pre-emptive measure for Tuesday. The BMC marshals urged people to maintain distance and managed the crowds outside shops.
"By now, Mumbaikars have realised that the civic marshals will fine them if they flout the Covid-19 norms. The sight of marshals made people behave in a responsible manner," said a store manager. “Due to the ongoing curfew, it has become easier for the marshals to identify spots where most of the violators could be located," said a senior official of the Solid Waste Management (SWM) department, BMC. The SWM department has been assigned the responsibility of deploying marshals and collecting fines from violators.
"We are now placing marshals outside stores and essential shops and establishments so that people don't let their guard down," the official added. Bhagyashree Kapse, BMC assistant commissioner and in-charge of R Central (Borivli) ward said, during the curfew period the civic officials have become extra vigilant. They are visiting places where there are crowds. "We are monitoring CCTV cameras. During the peak hours we are deploying our men at markets, bus stops and stations so that discipline is maintained," said Kapse.