Muscat: Muttrah Fish Market reopened its doors to the public after three months of shutdown due to Covid_19 preventive measures, while Muttrah Souq will remain closed until further notice.
Entrance for the customers and traders are clearly marked with different gates. At each entrance, the visitors’ temperature is monitored by the security guards stationed at each entrance.
“So often people have been eagerly coming here to see whether the fish market has reopened and they have been waiting for this day. Everyone is happy to come back and start their work. Of course, there are measures in place to maintain social distancing. We expect the full crowd by the weekend,” Mohammed Abdullah al Azani, head of Market Regulation Section, Muscat Municipality.
Each trader is allocated their space with alternate stalls sealed off and left empty to maintain social distancing. “We have to be cautious and strict measures have been taken,” he said. Customers have to wear masks.
The working hours of the Muttrah Fish Market are from 6 am to 6 pm. “But during these days it is best to come before 1 pm,” said Al Azani.
Some of the fishermen had continued to fish throughout these months as there is a constant demand for them. Saud al Habsi starts his journey with his elder brother and other team members after 4 am morning prayers. “We come every day by 2.30 am from Al Khoudh to Muttrah. We go on two boats and are back by 9.30 or 10 am it depends because when we catch the fish we come back. It can be even at 8 am. Today our catch is this – Mackerel as it is known and sardines. We clear the fish from the nets and then it is time for homemade breakfast – Omani bread and Kahwa.”
Now that the Muttrah Fish Market is reopened, selling is going to be even easier for them. But they also have regular customers in hypermarkets and supermarkets.
The fishermen from different areas come to sell their catch in Muttrah Fish Market as well.
Only individuals who have registered with Muscat Municipality can sell fish at this market.
Prior to Covid_19, there used to be about 125 people involved in the sale of fish. The market has 52 counters and at any given time there were at least 45 people working yesterday, including 32 in the section of fish cleaning and cutting section.
Habib al Marjabi, a regular shopper at the Muttrah Fish and Vegetable Market, was already there on Wednesday, “Other shops here have opened, and once the fish market also opens then it is great. We hope we come out of the pandemic soon and go back to normalcy.”
Basheer Mohammed who has always bought fish from Muttrah market for decades said while sipping his tea that he has seen Muttrah Fish Market close for a pandemic for the first time, “I have come to buy fish from here. Fishermen bring their fish from different places, Muscat, Sidab, Seeb, and even Sur.”
Mohammed Hussain who resides in Muttrah said, "I am from Bangladesh and my friends and I love fish as part of our meals. So we are very happy the fishermen are back."
On Wednesday the Muscat Municipality began its preparation by cleaning the premises and disinfecting it before the market began its operations on Thursday morning.