Health Ministry issues SOPs to curb Covid spread in markets

New Delhi, Dec 2 (Bureau) Levying of fines on defaulters for not wearing mask or for not following physical distancing norms, exploring option of allowing markets/shops to open on alternate days and possible incentive/discounts for those who shop during non-peak hours are among the norms issued by the Health Ministry to curb Coronavirus spread via markets. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which has issued Standard operating Procedures (SOPs) on the preventive steps to be taken to contain Covid 19 spread in the country, however, warned that shop-owners, employees and visitors living in containment zones will not be allowed entry into marketplaces.

Recognising that marketplaces are visited by large number of people for their daily needs, shopping, entertainment, and food, the ministry has designed a protocol to contain the spread of COVID-19. Amid COVID pandemic, the gradual reopening of economic activities, markets are witnessing high footfalls. Such large gatherings, without observance of COVID19 appropriate behaviour have the potential to spread Coronavirus disease. The Ministry has advised closure of markets in case a larger number of cases were reported with epidemiological links with the market by the administration. The SOPs state that there has to be effective crowd management in cases of local Metro rail stoppages at stations directly feeding into markets and favoured online booking of groceries and home deliveries must be encouraged, where the staff for home deliveries to be screened thermally by the vendors prior to allowing home deliveries. Vehicles may only be allowed to be parked in assigned parking lots and that proper crowd management in the parking lots and outside the premises – duly following physical distancing norms to be ensured.