No sooner had Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day national lockdown in a televised address on Tuesday evening, than people rushed to supermarkets to buy essential commodities. Department stores were overwhelmed by crowds as citizens attempted to purchase groceries and vegetables before the midnight deadline. While PM Modi stated in his speech that essential items would be available, the home quarantine announcement to help contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic came with a little over three-hour warning, triggering massive panic across the country.
Visuals of panic-buying showed citizens in near-stampede situations, edging past one another to grab a hold of essential items. The crowded scenes, however, showed a total disregard for medical advice to be followed during the pandemic. While expert advice recommends social distancing, people were seen running towards supermarkets and gathering in large groups.
These visuals are of DMart in Thane, sourced by my collegiate @Kajal_Iyer . This is exactly what you are NOT SUPPOSED TO DO. ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES WILL BE AVAILABLE AT ALL TIMES. PLS. DONT PANIC BUY. YOU WILL BE ALLOWED TO GO OUT AND BUY THEM. #ModiKiBatMano #lockdownindia pic.twitter.com/WoY6A135wg— Megha Prasad (@MeghaSPrasad) March 24, 2020
This was the panic-buying scene at the grocery store near my house in Bengaluru. A staff was standing at the entrance and managing the line, letting in one customer at a time. pic.twitter.com/hInQ2hrGvL— Shiba Kurian (@shiba_kurian) March 24, 2020
The situation prompted the Prime Minister to tweet, stating that essential commodities, medicines etc. would be available during the lockdown.
“THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO NEED TO PANIC.” reassured the Prime Minister.
My fellow citizens,— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 24, 2020
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.
Many criticised the Prime Minister’s speech on Tuesday, saying that he did not adequately clarify the availability of essential services during the 21-day lockdown.
By converging around shops, you are risking the spread of COVID-19.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 24, 2020
No panic buying please.
Please stay indoors.
I repeat- Centre and State Governments will ensure all essentials are available. https://t.co/bX00az1h7l
PM may need to address the nation again to make this point... At three shops I visited, bread and other essentials had run out...Shopkeepers said people queued up the moment immediately. Hope govt will ensure supplies, as MHA guidelines provide, and calm fears. https://t.co/e7976TmTOX— Suhasini Haidar (@suhasinih) March 24, 2020
Following the speech, guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs stated the list of essential services that would be available during the lockdown period.
HERE'S WHAT WIL BE OPEN— Shilpa S. Ranipeta (@Shilparanipeta) March 24, 2020
- Shops selling groceries, fruits&vegetables, dairy, meat& fish
- Banks, insurance offices & ATMs
- Delivery of all essential goods incl food, meds through e-commerce
- Telecom, internet & cable services
-IT & ITes (only for essential services)#COVID19
This includes shops selling groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy and milk booths, meat and fish and animal fodder. "However, district authorities may encourage and facilitate home delivery to minimize the movement of individuals outside their homes." read the guideline. Banks, insurance offices, ATMs, media houses, telecommunication services, food, medicine and medical equipment delivery, fuel, power, would continue to operate.