Mumbai News

Covid-19: Despite government’s advice, trains & buses in Mumbai packed on Monday – Times of India

MUMBAI: Despite chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s appeal to companies to allow employees to work from home and citizens to practice social distancing, it was mostly business as usual on Monday.
Around 10.30am at Andheri station, barring the masks, dupattas and handkerchiefs covering faces, nothing was different. Most commuters used the overcrowded escalators instead of the comparatively spacious staircases. Some applied sanitisers every 15 to 20 minutes.
“There is no dramatic reduction in crowds on trains, at least during peak hours,” said a WR official. “There is a drop, but it is more during the non-peak hours as irregular travellers may be avoiding work,” said a CR official.
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Similarly, while congestion on the roads was visibly less than on other days, traffic continued. “Although the roads are far from empty, congestion is less than before and travel time has reduced. I took an hour and a half to go from Kandivli to Dadar on Monday. On other days, it takes two hours and 15 minutes,” said a stockbroker.
A motorist, Meeta Palan, said she did not come across much congestion on JVLR and Eastern Express Highway on Monday morning, unlike on other days.
Several Mumbaikars said they had not yet been informed about the work-from-home option. Content writer Prajakta Kulkarni, who travels from Thane to Belapur daily, said, “The train I took was slightly less crowded than usual, but most people were still travelling to work. Our organisation has asked us to come on Tuesday as well. They said they would soon arrive at a decision on working from home.”
While people are refraining from stepping out unless absolutely necessary, huge crowds at departmental stores continue. “On one hand, the government is urging people to stay away from crowded places, but a lot of people are out at vegetable markets, which get crowded in the evening. Also, there is a rush at hypermarkets, where you literally rub shoulders with others,” said Kusum Shah, a housewife from Mulund.
A doctor told TOI the government will have to take more drastic steps if the idea of social distancing has to work in a city like Mumbai. “The directive to stay home has to come from employers. Even one person less in the street means a reduction in the chances of a Covid-19 transmission,” he said. “The government would also have to upscale its sanitization measures. Local trains, escalators and handrails must be cleaned at least half a dozen times a day if infection has to be contained.”
BMC’s Dr Daksha Shah on Monday reiterated that people must understand why social distancing is crucial. “We have a window of 14 days to cut down the chances of transmission as much as possible. By staying home or working from home, every Mumbaikar will contribute to reducing crowds,” she said, adding that the move could help reduce even the spread of the seasonal flu. “A lot of people with seasonal cough and cold and come to the Covid-19 OPD at Kasturba Hospital, which not only is a sign of unnecessary panic, but also puts them at risk,” she said, advocating an urgent need for social distancing.