Coronavirus Outbreak: People resort to panic buying soon after PM's lockdown announcement; govt later clarifies availability of essential commodities

In the gap of around 30 minutes between Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi address to the nation announcing a 21-day-long nationwide lockdown and his announcement on Twitter urging people to not resort to panic buying, people descended on the streets as the speech did not make a mention of the availability of essential commodities

FP Staff March 25, 2020 10:36:26 IST
Coronavirus Outbreak: People resort to panic buying soon after PM's lockdown announcement; govt later clarifies availability of essential commodities

In the gap of around 30 minutes between Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation announcing a 21-day-long nationwide lockdown and his announcement on Twitter urging people to not resort to panic buying, people descended on the streets as the speech did not make a mention of the availability of essential commodities.

The lockdown was announced to curb the spread of coronavirus, which has claimed 11 lives and infected 562 people.

Soon after his address to the nation, the Prime Minister tweeted, “My fellow citizens, there is absolutely no need to panic. Essential commodities, medicines etc. would be available. Centre and various state governments will work in close coordination to ensure this. Together, we will fight COVID-19 and create a healthier India.”

Even after the tweet, long queues were seen outside departmental stores, supermarkets and chemists.

Coronavirus Outbreak People resort to panic buying soon after PMs lockdown announcement govt later clarifies availability of essential commodities

Modi's speech was criticised for not mentioning access to food and groceries or relief measures for poor Indians, whose means of income would be jeopardised by the lockdown.

Ironically, the sight of people queuing up, standing close together outside stores was in contradiction with the social distancing measures imposed by the government, given how contagious the novel coronavirus is.

Meanwhile, cops were seen in Mumbai patrolling the streets and announcing that shops stocked with essential commodities will be open during the lockdown.

In the 8 pm speech, Modi announced that the lockdown would begin from Wednesday at 12 AM. "If you don't observe national lockdown in the coming 21 days, our country will go back 21 years in past," he said.

According to a statement issued by the home ministry, shops that sell food, groceries, milk, meat and other provisions can remain open during the lockdown, along with medical shops. Banks and ATMs will also be functional during the lockdown.

The statement also says that essential goods may be delivered through e-commerce websites and that banks, ATMs and insurance offices will remain open.

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