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March 24, 2020

Big stores overcrowded

Lahore

March 24, 2020

LAHORE:As soon as the Punjab government announced a 14-day lockdown, a large number of citizens rushed towards super stores and big grocery stores to fill up the cabinets in their kitchens ignoring the fact they might carry back the deadly virus with them.

A visit to a big grocery store in Model Town locality revealed that hundreds of customers were present in the store at a single time while the store's cafeteria was also open where dozens of customers were sitting and enjoying food. Customers coming in the store were touching racks, products, trollies and other material without knowing the fact that these might be contaminated with Coronavirus.

Similar situation can be witnessed at big grocery stores situated at Thokar, Ravi Road, Defence, Fortress Stadium, Gulberg, Kasuri Road, Allama Iqbal Town, Garden Town, Faisal Town, Model Town Link Road, PIA Road, Wapda Town, College Road, Mughalpura, Shalimar Link Road, GT Road and etc. Majority of stores are not offering any hand sanitizer to the customers.

On social media, videos of huge lines outside grocery stores in USA and other countries went viral as these stores are not allowing more than five customers inside the store at a time. But here in Lahore, there is no such precaution and one can walk into the stores without any limitation of numbers. The scribe has witnessed that citizens with their full families are coming to the stores as they are coming to a picnic spot. Children are running here and there and their parents laughing while sipping coffee or tea in the cafeteria area of the stores.

The big chain of grocery store in Lahore has not taken any step to save the citizens coming to their stores from Coronavirus. Sources inside the store chain revealed that the daily sale of the store had increased tremendously but safety arrangements were not up to the mark. Sources said that the store had directed all its employees to come to office no matter what happened.

When contacted, the store manager of a big grocery store in Model Town refused to talk on the pretext that their head office deals with media persons. The scribe tried to contact the highest position holder of the store and sent him Whatsapp as well as made calls but he didn’t reply.

Crowded stores would have a greater risk of infection, simply because of numbers of people and density. If you have to go to the store, touch as little as possible and sanitize all the stuff you buy when you get home. Shoppers can avoid some of this risk by dropping in at odd hours or visiting less popular stores. In this way, citizens will contact minimum number of people while they will also help the small business owner in this time of need.

On the other hand, Lahorites who are known foodies and even the Corona threat has not stopped them from eating out or ordering home deliveries without realising that this might be a potential risk. Restaurants who are offering home deliveries have no model to follow for safe home deliveries. In USA, many home delivery services have adopted various ways, including placing food outside the customer's residence to ensure safety of their customer.

When contacted, spokesperson for the district government said the issue was serious and he would talk to the DC Lahore for a guideline. He, however, suggested the citizens to avoid going to overcrowded places and contact people.