Amid the regular increase in infection and death due to Covid-19 ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr, various types of shops in the markets, shopping malls and pavement shops in Dhaka city were crowded with Eid shoppers on Sunday, following the announcement of strict lockdown from 14 April to curb the rapid spread of Covid-19 infection.
The markets in the capital's New Market, Gauchia, Chandni Chowk, Eastern Mallika, New Elephant Road markets, Bashundhara Shopping Mall, Farmgate and others were closed for one week due to the lockdown imposed by the government and were reopened last Friday in the face of movements of traders in various areas of the capital.
The shops are supposed to be open from 9am to 5pm in compliance with strict hygiene rules but many are not abiding by social distancing and health safety rules prescribed by the government.
Traders claim that with the announcement of an all-out lockdown from the 14th, retailers and wholesalers from different parts of the country are flocking to the markets for shopping ahead of the upcoming Pohela Boishakh (Bengali New Year) and Eid-ul-Fitr.
Most of these buyers are buying necessities at a slightly cheaper price from sidewalk shops and the gathering of buyers is more in the New Market area. The wholesale shops at the Gulisthan area were also busy with customers.
Traders and buyers have said that the price of each product is higher than before.
Bag seller on the sidewalk in the New Market area Md Sagar told The Business Standard (TBS) that the crowd has been like Eid for the last two days. However, sales are normal. Before Eid, the usual sale is of Tk50,000, but on Saturday it was Tk35,000.
In Chandni Chowk market, cosmetics shop owner Md Anwar Hossain told TBS, "Sales are normal. The situation might be terrible in the next couple of weeks so everyone is buying as much as they can. I have found the price of products a little higher."
Misti Akhter, who came to buy clothes, told TBS, "None is allowed to get out of the house in the lockdown so I am buying clothes for my children ahead of Eid."
Ratan Kumar, who came to Gauchia to shop with his family, told TBS, "I am buying as much as I can. I do not know how long the lockdown will last. I am thinking of doing some shopping and sending it to my village home too."
Among the big shopping malls, Bashundhara Shopping Mall was quite crowded.
Zahir Uddin, a shopkeeper, told TBS that there has been a good crowd for the last three days but sales are normal. People are not buying more than they need.
A female shopper named Latif Begum said, "I am doing Eid shopping in a limited range. Since I do not know when the lockdown will be withdrawn and markets will open again, I do not want to take any risk."
Zahir Uddin of Multiplan's Marvellous Computer Centre said their sales were half the normal time. People are not buying anything unless it is absolutely necessary. Earlier, our sale was of Tk1 lakh which is now Tk50,000.
Along with the crowds in the markets, there were many private cars, CNG and rickshaws along with public transport on the roads of Banglamotor, Kawran Bazar, Science lab, Maghbazar, Paltan and other important places, causing frequent traffic jams.
Moreover, some buses including BRTC were seen carrying extra passengers without following the hygiene rules.