The announcement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for 21-day nationwide lockdown from Tuesday midnight in view of the coronavirus threat led to panic-buying of essential items in many parts of the national capital.
The prime minister appealed to people not to panic, saying thronging shops will pose the risk of spread of COVID-19.
“There is absolutely no need to panic; the Centre and states will work together to ensure availability of essential commodities, medicines, etc,” he said.
However, people fearing shortage and rise in prices of the commodities queued up in front of grocery stores, vegetable vendors and medical shops.
“I had already purchased groceries and other items to meet my family’s needs till March 31. I need more items now as the lockdown has been extended,” Amit Prakash, who was standing outside a grocery store in Laxmi Nagar, said.
Hectic-buying of food items which started after the ‘Janta curfew’ on Sunday and announcement of a lockdown by the Delhi government intensified shortly after the prime minister announced the nationwide lockdown on Tuesday.
“I have never witnessed such a chaos in my life. All our stocks, including rice, flour, bread, biscuits, edible oils, have been sold out,” the owner of a general store in Shakarpur said.
The people feared that restrictions would only intensify further due to the coronavirus threat in the coming days, and the shortage of food items would accentuate.
“The rates of vegetables, rice, flour and other food items are already high. The problem is growing due to the sudden increase in demand and restrictions due to the lockdown in the city. The government must act against hoarding and black marketing of essential commodities,” Shailesh, a businessman in Patparganj, said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued guidelines to be followed during the 21-day complete lockdown, assuring that fair price shops and those dealing with food, groceries, fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, fish, animal fodder will remain open.
Dense crowds were also seen outside medicine shops in the city.
“People are behaving like they never went to school. This time they should set an example. Our government has promised us that there will be no shortage of essential supplies. One should keep patience and not panic. We will all sail through this,” a medical store owner in Jungpura said.
Ananya Sundaray, a resident of Malviya Nagar, said, “After I heard about the lockdown, I and my two flatmates rushed to a nearby market, as stores downstairs were closed. There were long queues in almost all the shops. We bought flour, rice, soyabean, sugar, vegetables and maggie packets.”
But some people also talked of having patience and cooperate with the coordinate with the government in these extraordinary times.
“As soon as the complete lockdown was announced, we decided to call up water suppliers and departmental stores if they would be operational. After assistance from suppliers, we decided to stay indoors and not queue up outside shops,” Nandita, a resident of Lajpat Nagar, said.
Another resident of Lajpat Nagar Neena Gupta said, “Anticipating lockdown, we had stocked all essentials a few days ago. But now that the government has assured there won’t be cut down on essential supplies, we feel better.”
Delhi has so far reported 30 cases of coronavirus, including two deaths.