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Covid-19: Health Min releases SOP for retail, wholesale markets

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 02, 2020

The market associations shall facilitate maintaining a healthy environment of public utility areas and open spaces through their own means and through local urban bodies/civic agencies   -  THE HINDU

Market associations should ensure sanitisation and Covid-appropriate behaviour

The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare on Wednesday issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to be followed at retail and wholesale markets as a precaution against spread of Coronavirus.

While only those markets that are outside the containment zones are allowed to open-up, market associations should ensure that high risk employees such as the elderly and pregnant women are not exposed to any front-line work requiring direct contact with the public.

Social distancing, use of face masks, frequent handwashing and sanitisation should be followed. “To prevent the risk of transmission of Covid, it is crucial that a healthy environment is maintained at marketplaces,” the statement added.

Prior to resumption of daily activities, all work areas inside the shops should be sanitised, regularly cleaned and disinfected and a sanitiser dispenser placed at the entrance, the Ministry said.

Where valet parking facilities are provided, proper disinfection of steering, door handles and keys of the vehicles should be done by the owner before the vehicle is used again, it added.

Safety protocol

The Ministry said it has designed a protocol outlining various generic precautionary measures to be adopted in addition to specific measures to be followed at marketplaces to prevent spread of Covid-19. “The market associations shall facilitate maintaining a healthy environment of public utility areas and open spaces through their own means and through local urban bodies/civic agencies,” the Ministry stated.

Also, Covid appropriate behaviour in marketplaces will need to be self-regulated by Market Associations through various measures. They should create a sub-committee for each market to facilitate and monitor implementation of Covid appropriate behaviour in marketplaces.

Mask dispensing kiosks at government approved rates may be set up at entry points and parking lots and masks distributed freely. Establishing hand washing stations in public utility areas, use of foot operated taps and contactless soap dispensers and mass thermal screening at access points has also been recommended.

Penalty provision

In markets, where the self-regulatory approach fails, enforcement agencies can levy fines or penalties for non-compliance and consider allowing markets and shops to open on alternate days. Enforcement authorities can also ask markets to close if a large number of cases are reported with epidemiological links with the market.

“Crowd density does not remain the same throughout. It usually peaks during evening hours on weekdays. On weekends and holidays, marketplaces are crowded for most of the day till late in the evening. Planning should specifically factor-in requirements for these peak days/ hours. Several strategies can be worked out by the law enforcing agencies in collaboration with Market Associations to manage crowds,” the SOP document added.

Published on December 02, 2020

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