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New Delhi: As the national capital witnesses a sharp rise in the number of COVID cases, shopkeepers are now ensuring that people coming to the markets wear masks and maintain physical distance.But doing so has not been without difficulties, as they complain that people are becoming complacent and not following protocols.The Delhi government recently reiterated that wearing masks in public places is mandatory and a fine of Rs 500 is to be imposed on violators.Traders are concerned that if cases continue to rise, restrictions will be imposed on markets, which are still reeling under the compound effect of inflation and multiple covid waves.Delhi on Thursday reported 2,726 fresh cases, the highest in nearly seven months, according to health department data. Markets are the first ones to be impacted because of restrictions.Ashok Randhawa, president of Mini Market Association, Sarojini Nagar said that traders have started taking precautions by pasting posters outside their establishments telling customers about the mask mandate.”Traders had also stopped wearing masks, but today, I checked all were wearing masks. We are asking customers politely to wear a mask but people have become complacent and we cannot force them,” Randhawa said.The association has also distributed a circular, informing traders about the mandatory precautions to be taken.They are also planning to organise a COVID vaccination camp shortly.Similarly, at Palika Bazaar, traders said that customers couldn’t care less about wearing masks.”We regularly ask them to wear masks but people have stopped using them altogether. We cannot ask them continuously because it might impact our business. We can only advise them,” said Darshan Lal Kakkar, president of the Palika Bazaar Association.Kakkar and Randhawa both have expressed concern that the rising cases might lead to more restrictions which might again impact their business.”Markets are still reeling under the effects of the past two years. Inflation is very high and I don’t think the business will be able to take the impact of another lockdown,” Randhawa said.As per the data, the active caseload has reached 8,840, the highest in six months. On February 6, the number of active coronavirus patients stood at 8,869.K K Balli, president of the Association of Wholesale Readymade Garment Dealers (Gandhi Nagar), shared similar concerns and hoped that the cases would subside.”We are taking all precautions. We don’t want markets to be put under lockdown. Traders are already facing losses and cannot handle another COVID wave. We hope this new surge in cases slows down,” Balli said.(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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