Belying assumptions that lockdown would affectbuying capacity of people, all streets are awash with crowds
Belying assumptions that COVID-19 would badly impact Deepavali business this year due to the fear of contracting the viral infection and the recession-like situation, all the streets in Tirunelveli are filled with hundreds of people doing last minute shopping.
As the COVID-19-induced prolonged lockdown from March last had a telling impact on all sections of the society, especially on the working class, it was expected that it would dent the buying capacity of the consumers. Moreover, people would not come out in large numbers for shopping, fearing the viral infection, it was thought.
However, dashing all these assumptions, all the streets are overflowing with shoppers, causing serious traffic snarls in the evening every day. Though COVID-19 is still a major threat during this festival season and the shoppers are being urged repeatedly through public address system to take safety precautions by wearing mask and using hand sanitiser, people are least bothered and go on with their shopping. There is no sign of physical distancing at all the shops ahead of the celebration on Saturday.
Barring a brief break after a sudden downpour dampened the shoppers’ spirit for a while in the afternoon, they were back on the streets once the rain stopped. The unexpected rains badly hit the eleventh hour firecrackers sale in the twin towns of Tirunelveli and Palayamkottai on Thursday afternoon. While the shops functioning from permanent structures were not affected badly, those functioning under makeshift structures suffered much.
In order to check movement of criminals, particularly pocket pickers mingling with the crowd, police have installed 34 surveillance cameras on all four Car Streets in Tirunelveli Town, especially on North Car Street, the Mecca for shoppers. The police monitor the visuals they get from the surveillance cameras from the control room near Swami Nellaiyappar Temple. A watch tower has also been erected on North Car Street to watch the crowd.
As a good number of textile and jewellery showrooms have sprung up in Vannarpet in Palayamkottai over the past few years, the police have installed surveillance cameras in this area also. The police caught two youth red-handed when they tried to steal something from a car parked beneath the flyover after breaking the windowpanes a couple of days ago. After this incident, police personnel in plainclothes have been positioned in this area.
In Thoothukudi, the police have installed surveillance cameras on Great Cotton Road and Victoria Extension Road to monitor the crowd.
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