Mumbai: While Mumbaikars rushed out of their homes in large numbers and jostled in long queues outside shops to stock up on essentials in a mad rush on Tuesday night, better sense prevailed on Wednesday morning, with innovative methods being practiced at grocery and provision stores in the city, and other parts of the state, to maintain social distancing and prevent crowding.
Circles and rectangles with a gap of three feet between them were marked out with chalk or paint at regular intervals in front of roadside grocers and provision stores in many parts of the city. A single customer stood patiently for his turn in each circle or rectangle before moving on to the next one in the line leading up to the shop.
The idea seems to have been picked up from images on social media of photos from outside a mall in China where the management drew circles on the floor to maintain social distancing.
An official from the Maharashtra Chief Minister's Office on Wednesday said the government has started pushing the concept across the state by sharing photos of such social distancing practices across the state.
"We have so far received photographs from Kolhapur, Nanded and from Talegaon Dabhade town near Pune where people have drawn circles or squares on the street in vegetable markets as well as outside the grocery shops. People are following the guidelines by standing in a queue and are also maintaining the required distance,” the official said.
At departmental stories like D-mart in Thane, people were told to maintain a onehand-distance from each other while standing in a queue. Small children were strictly not allowed inside stores. Some shops allowed only one person from a family inside to reduce crowding. In Sion Koliwada huge crowds thronged to grocers.
As crowds swelled, the local police got circles painted at intervals of three feet before grocery shops and saw to it that shoppers stood in the circles without crowding.
A shop at Military Road, Marol, in Andheri East found a different way to avoid crowding. It put up a handwritten note on its door which stated that people could drop off their list of required supplies, mentioning their contact details and address, into a basket placed below, and that they could collect the items after two hours. 4
There was a scarcity of provisions in shops in some areas due to the panic buying following the Prime Minister's announcement of a 21-day lockdown the previous night.
Ghatkopar resident Sujal Adiwal said, “I did not venture out to stockpile stuff as I had seen on the news that general stores and shops would continue to run. But I was shocked to see nothing available on Wednesday morning.
She had to skip her breakfast as a result. In rural Maharashtra, a daily needs shop in Kotoli village in Kolhapur district drew circles at regular intervals and asked customers to stand in them. A vegetable seller in Nanded city too drew white squares separated by a safe distance.
Some towns such as Panhala, Ajara and a village called Pulachi Shiroli in Kolhapur district began implementing the social distancing idea since Tuesday evening. Ranjit Chougule, a resident of Pulachi Shiroli village near Kolhapur city said, “When I saw the photos of the China mall, I was at first amused and thought those people were being crazy.
After some time, I realised that it is a useful idea as social distancing will be maintained as well as people will get groceries and other essential services.” "I discussed it with friends and showed it to local shop owners, who after some deliberations decided to go for it.
We used white colour to mark circles and/or squares on the road at over three feet between each marking. People were asked to stand as per the markings and soon they were also comfortable with it,” he said. A local police official confirmed the development. (