Despite COVID-19 scare, markets abuzz with shoppers in Kashmir ahead of Eid

Srinagar: With just three days left for Eid-ul-Azha, majority of markets across Kashmir valley, including in summer capital Srinagar, wore a festive look as people have come out in large numbers to shop despite COVID-19 pandemic.
Eid-ul-Azha will be celebrated across the country on Saturday following which the authorities have eased out restrictions with certain guidelines for two days in Srinagar and three days in other parts of the valley till Thursday.
However, despite authorities warning of strict action against people violating relaxation guidelines — including wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing — the SOPs were being neglected in many places in Srinagar and other parts of the valley.
Meanwhile, there are no fixed prices of any commodities and items, which are being sold by the traders and vendors at higher rates.
Despite rapid increased in the COVID-19 deaths and fresh cases, people since early Wednesday morning thronged to markets to get their last minute shopping done. The markets have been specially decorated and the shops have lined up their merchandise to woo customers into buying the goods.
Bakery and confectionery establishments are also witnessing good business in the city since early this morning as these shops reopened on Wednesday after remaining closed for six days to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
However, the business is about 50 per cent less as compared to previous festival seasons. “The buying powers of people have reduced drastically due to unrest post August 5 last year and current restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic. And bakery is one such item which is required when people visit each other so this time the sales have witnessed a decline of about 50 per cent,” a bakery owner Laif Ahmad Sofi said.
Sofi said the bakery in the valley were already aware about this and had reduced the manufacture of bakery items by about 40 to 50 per cent.
The baker, who owns Ali Sons in Khanyar in downtown, said that he has installed sanitization tunnel outside his establishment to keep is customers and staff safe from COVID-19.
The flea market in the heart of the city — Makkah Market — also witnessed heavy rush of customers, who were busy buying new clothes for Eid. People were also busy buying animals for sacrifice in different parts of the city, particularly downtown and uptown Srinagar.
Similar reports of busy markets were coming from other parts of the valley.
However, despite claims by the government that profiteering is being checked, the traders and shopkeepers are selling goods at higher than the rate set by authorities.