Covid-19 preventive norms flouted at Mawaleh Market

Muscat: The norms set to prevent the spread of Covid-19 reported having been flouted in the busy Central Fruits and Vegetables Market in Mawaleh.

A large number of vendors and customers gather here every evening while the road in the front is packed with heavy vehicles, the queue of which extends till Burj Sahwa roundabout. The timing for the market is 10pm to 4am.

Vendors and staff of the importing, packing and re-exporting area are playing a safe with social distancing and wearing PPE, the area earmarked for wholesalers and retailers is witnessing people mingling with each other without maintaining any pandemic protocols.

“On any given night, this largest wholesale and retail market receives hundreds of heavy vehicles from across the country and neighboring countries and large gathering of people from across the country is a common sight. It’s alarming to see that they are observing no or very less personal protective measures,” a wholesaler told the Observer.

They wear no hand gloves while face masks are worn just for namesake which is often pulled down when they communicate with each other. They sweat as the temperatures continue to rise and they arrange the vegetables and fruits with their naked hands. Social distancing is also not adhered to.

Meanwhile, the Wilayat of Seeb continued to report a spike in the number of cases on Tuesday as well. The number touched a staggering 6,041 on Tuesday while Muttrah, which was once the focal point of coronavirus cases reported 5,866 incidents in all. Recovery rate too dipped with 2,120 and 3, 630 respectively.

The Muscat Municipality which runs the largest wholesale and retail market in the country has earlier closed it several times as means of the safety of the sellers and buyers inside the market.

It was first ordered to close before the holy month, on April 24, as large crowds were feared to gather in the market premises on the eve of Ramadhan which would trigger the Covid-19 spread.

Later, the Market was opened to wholesale trade but restricted the retail division from 4am to 10am.

However, the Muscat Municipality announced the second time closure of the market on May 18 after heavy numbers of people were seen with no or less precautionary measures even after repeated requests to follow safety measures.

Although it was briefly opened, shutters were again closed from Saturday, June 6 till June 13 as part of tackling the community spread of Covid-19. It was later lifted with time restrictions on both wholesale retail trades.

“We keep urging all those who visit the market to observe utmost care and sanitise their hands and wear facemasks. And that is the reason we have regulated the timings as well as imposed restrictions. It’s the people to take care”, an official from the Muscat Municipality present inside the market said.