Thursday 26 March 2020 1:43 AM UTC
Thiruvananthapuram March 26: As shopkeepers around the country come to grips with the demands of “social distancing” to help keep the infectious COVID-19 virus at bay, in a country used to massive crowds and one person breathing down the other’s neck while standing in compressed queues, one Kerala vendor has hit upon a novel idea to maintain a safe distance between himself and his customers.
In a photograph tweeted this afternoon by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, a smiling shopkeeper can be seen transferring essential goods to his customer’s shopping bag with the help of an approximately four-feet long PVC pipe attached to the side of his counter.
All he has to do is drop the item requested by the customer into his end of the pipe and it slides down to the opposite end into the shopping bag held open by the customer.
“How to maintain physical distance between shopkeeper and customer while buying essential supplies – the Kerala way!” Shashi Tharoor, a Lok Sabha MP from Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram, wrote.
India went under a 21-day “total lockdown”, ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at midnight on Tuesday. Under the lockdown – some states have also ordered a curfew – people have been prohibited from leaving their homes except in cases of emergencies.
The lockdown is seen by the government as a way of enforcing “social distancing”, a measure advocated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and repeatedly mentioned by PM Modi.
Keeping at least one metre from others while in public is seen as critical given that the COVID-19 virus spreads via droplets of fluid expelled when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Other shops around the country have hit upon different ways to enforce this minimum distance.
Grocery and milk stores – two of only three kinds open during the lockdown, with the other being pharmacies – in Gujarat and Puducherry, have drawn squares or circles in the empty streets outside.
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