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Long queues outside grocery stores, people complain of shortage following announcement of lockdown

People stand in a queue outside a chemist shop while maintaining social distancing during a nationwide lockdown in the wake of coronavirus pandemic in New Delhi. (Photo | PTI)

NEW DELHI: Long queues outside grocery stores, inflated prices, difficulty in getting important items -- these were some of the problems encountered by people in NCR on Wednesday after a 21-day lockdown was announced in the country in the wake of coronavirus outbreak.

Despite authorities asking people not to step out and assuring that essential supplies will not be affected, people rushed out to stock daily need goods.

Many said that they have been forced to step out as home deliveries have almost stopped.

"We don't want to take a risk by not storing ration.  As several people are coming out of their houses to buy groceries and other essential items, I have also come to buy the same," said Anand Sharma, a resident of Kaushik Enclave in North Delhi's Burari.

However, at many places including Lajpat Nagar 1 people kept a distance of one metre while standing in queues, keeping in the mind the importance of social distancing in the current situation.

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Shopowners too were taking precautions like restricting access to customers.

"In shops like Easy Day, the staff of the shop is coming out and collecting the list of items from us. They are not allowing customers inside the shop," said a resident of Lajpat Nagar.

The resident said as per the list provided by the customer, supplies are being handed over while the consumers wait in queues maintaining social distance.

"Even at small shops, they tell you to keep the money at their counter. One customer is being catered to at a time while the next customer waits for his turn," said another resident of Lajpat Nagar.

Some grocery shop owners said that supply of several items has been affected since the announcement of lockdown in Delhi.

"Several goods have gone out of stock as their supply is not coming on time. Government should ensure that supply of essential items is not affected due to lockdown," said  a grocery shop owner, who didn't wish to be named.

Even at milk vends where queues were there, people were seen observing social distancing.

In some areas of the national capital, supply of bottled water has been drastically hit.

With the lockdown, vendors are unable to reach their shops since they cannot commute.

A water can vendor, who stays in Jamna Park, and has his shop in Karol Bagh, said he is unable to reach his shop due to the lockdown.

"Such services are not under essential services category so far. We might not even get passes also," he said.

Many students enrolled for civil service coaching programmes in Karol Bagh and nearby areas are also suffering hardships, especially in getting food and bottled water.

  "On Tuesday, when I went to buy provisions, only two such shops were open in the afternoon.

One of the shopkeepers said that supplies are not coming and he was selling the available stocks," said a Karol Bagh resident.

  Rashmi Dixit, a resident of Palm Olympia housing society in Greater Noida, said, "At the store inside our society, people started queuing up right after the prime minister announced the lockdown on Tuesday night."  

She said similar scenes greeted them when they visited the store on Wednesday morning. Another resident of the same society said, "The prices of some items had risen exponentially. Earlier, peanuts were priced at Rs 90 for half a kilogram but on Tuesday, when I went to buy them, the same packet was priced at Rs 125 for half a kilogram."  

A resident of Sector 41, Noida, said the prices of pulses has risen by 20 per cent.

  A resident of neighbouring area of Indirapuram in Ghaziabad said he managed to pick some essential medicines, vegetables and some provisions on Tuesday night.

  "Prices were stable except for some vegetables. Of course a number of people thronged the shops due to the uncertainty.

Police patrolling was there in the area and ensured there were no untoward incidents.

"There were traffic jams in the roads in front of the local provision stores. My wife was happy that I was able to pick up essential items," he said.

  Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a complete lockdown across the country for 21 days from Tuesday midnight, asserting that social distancing is the only way out for the country in its decisive battle against the coronavirus.