Crowding and gathering in Thimphu even after second lockdown

Even after record cases and 43 days of complete lockdown in the capital, Thimphu town still witnesses huge crowds and vehicle traffic in town. It appears that the fear of the coronavirus has greatly subsided.

However, a majority of the people are wearing facemasks, using hand sanitizer and Druk Trace App. The probable reason for the huge crowd in town is due to school re-opening.

An official from Health Ministry said, “It would be difficult to measure compliance, but as an indirect indicator, we may be able to say that the compliance might have improved going by no new local cases despite active enhanced surveillance in the days after second lockdown.”

He said a different measure of compliance would be required as it would be difficult to monitor each and every individual and so collaboration with DeSuups is crucial and individual responsibilities through “Our Gyenkhu”. 

Meanwhile, a 48-year-old grocery shopkeeper, Dorji, along the Norzin Lam said that comparing to the earnings after the first lockdown, the income is much better after the second lockdown.

He said, “This can be because of reopening of schools. We are hugely impacted by the second lockdown as it lasted quite long. However, I am hoping that the sales in few days can recover the losses we have borne during the lockdown.”

Another shopkeeper who runs a garment shop, Tshering Zam, said, “We are seeing more number of people coming for shopping this time comparing to that of after the first lockdown. So far I have seen people abiding by the COVID-19 protocol, usage of facemask and using of Druk Trace App. However, maintaining physical distance is quite challenging.”

They are doing their best in terms of educating and reminding people on health protocols, she said, adding that as far as possible they are keeping track of people if they are using the Druk Trace App but sometimes, particularly in the evening, there is a rush of customers, whereby they might miss out on someone not using the app.

Choki, a restaurant owner at CFM, said that they are happy to receive quite a good number of customers since the first outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, but they are being extra cautious as the community is still not safe.

She said, “There is no choice than to operate the business as we are under loss for quite long now. It has hit us hard, whereby we do not have money to pay the rent. Now that business is going well for now, I am hoping for the best.”

They are happy to see people following the protocol without fail, she said, adding that people wear face mask as soon as they are done eating and if Druk trace does not work, the customer’s request them to write their names in a book.

Talking to few people in town, they shared that they are aware of the associated risk and have a fear of getting exposed to the virus; however, there are no option than to come out as they had to do shopping for their school going children.

As far as possible they keep their small kids and old aged parents at home and they make sure that all the health protocol is being used as per the directives. The first thing they do is wash hand right after reaching home, they added.

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