The news that a New Market trader, his son and his staff tested positive barely a month after Kolkata’s heritage market re-opened triggered the sealing off of two blocks and the announcement that the entire market would be shut down for the next three weeks, a decision with which was later overturned.
A KMC markets department official said that they would decide on Thursday on how much of containment is required in the market since shutting down the entire place does not make sense just after a few days of its re-opening. It was learned that the owner of the shop “Johnson and Johnson” in E Block, along with his son and two staff members, had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Following this, E Block (where cake and confectionery range is located) and E(N) Block were sealed off and disinfected by the staff of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC). This means that 88 of the 300 shops in New Market will remain shut down.
The markets department of KMC had decided to shut down the entire market for an additional 21 days, citing that the infected owner might have used the facilities of the common toilet and the drinking water in the market. This led to disgruntlement among traders who questioned the decision, with SS Hogg Market Traders’ Association president Ashok Gupta citing the incident as “very unfortunate.”
“What if there’s another Covid case after 21 days? Will the authorities shut down the shops again? What happens to the traders then?” asked Ashraf Ali, joint secretary of the Association. Many traders asked why the entire market was being shut down after only 10 days of business after a two-month-long hiatus when only the neighboring blocks were being sealed.
The markets department finally consulted the civic health department, and after a discussion reversed its decision.