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August 1, 2020

Unusual rush in Rawalpindi markets despite virus risk

Islamabad

August 1, 2020

As the Punjab government has decided to close markets and shopping malls two to three days before Eidul Azha to avoid the spread of COVID-19, city residents rushed to the city markets to purchase their favorite Eid items.

Markets of Murree Road, Saidpur Road, Mall Road, Haider Road were packed with the shoppers despite the hot weather. Motorists were caught in a traffic jam as people arrived at the Raja Bazar for shopping ahead of the Eidul Azha festival. Despite the deadly risk posed by the virus, shoppers pressed on.

“Even after midnight my family members roamed in the city markets as the traders refused to abide by the administration’s order and the markets remained open. “This is the season to earn by selling the piled up stock and they ask us to close business. What an unfair order,” says Arshad Alvi, a garments shop owner.

“For us, Eid sales are a great opportunity to clear up unsold or off-season stock into cash, make room for new stock and sell existing stock via discount,” says Basil Rizvi, another shop owner.“Although prices have gone down slightly this Eid compared with last year, when inflation was much higher, sales are still lower than in 2019,” says Ejaz Haider, a merchant.

“For a much longer period of time we remained homebound. This feast is for Qurbani and buying new garments for all, and if we can’t celebrate in a way we like, there is no point working so hard throughout the year,” says Fatima Aziz, an educator and a mother of six kids, at a bustling market of Commercial Market, Satellite Town.

“For the reason that the lockdown prolonged, the list of our favorite things to purchase have piled up,” says Ambreen Haider at the Kamran Market, Saddar Bazaar.Syeda Zainab, a housewife, says: “Shops and shopping Malls will be closed soon before Eid therefore I must get my shopping done. I can’t remain locked up at home forever, life has to go on. I was afraid but I pushed myself to go out because I really want to have new dresses.”

Only some shop owners and shoppers were seen wearing protective face masks and gloves. This virus is very dangerous but people do not take it very seriously.“Despite the fact that most upmarket stores and malls in the city have enforced hygiene and social distancing rules, such measures are virtually impossible to implement in the markets,” says Abida Hussain, a government employee.

“Markets are open and full of sale items, however, Coronavirus Pandemic has hit our once bulging pockets, so we are buying only those items that are indispensable,” says Sara Naqvi.