In and around Thiruvananthapuram city, on Saturday, a vehicle moved around, with a loudspeaker announcing that people should remain vigilant to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Speaking to media on Saturday, District Collector Gopalakrishnan said that the Italian national who was confirmed to have COVID-19 had been staying near Varkala beach for the past 15 days and that he had moved across the district. The Collector asked people to be extra vigilant, avoid public gatherings, maintain social distancing, close down beaches and malls, and limit the use of beauty parlours and gymnasiums.
On Saturday evening, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan corrected the Collector's statements. The Chief Minister said that the Collector might have made the warning after a misunderstanding and clarified that the government has not decided to close down the beaches.
However, from Saturday, Thiruvananthapuram city wore a deserted look. Travancore National Mall, the biggest mall in the city, the Chalai and Palayam market, supermarkets in the city as well as the beaches, all had very few people visiting.
The city's favourite hangouts like Museum compound, Manaveeyam Veedhi, Gandhi Park and Kanakakkunnu park witnessed very few visitors. In the mornings and evenings, usually, both places have a huge crowd who comes for a walk or for jogging. But on Saturday evening and Sunday morning, they both seemed deserted.
Beaches in Kovalam, Shanghumugham, Vettukad also had very few visitors. Thiruvananthapuram's shopping places like Saphalyam complex, Central mall etc saw a small number of shoppers.
There were hardly any people at the Thampanoor and East Fort bus stand as well as the Railway station stand, as most of the buses were running empty or had very few passengers.
Crowded petrol bunks and grocery stores
While some places in the city were deserted, some places witnessed a lot of crowds. Outside ATMs, one could see large queues. "We have received the Collector's message. Some of my colleagues said that the city may go for a complete shutdown if this situation continues. So, we have decided to keep some money with us," said Anjana, who works at an IT company in Technopark, Thiruvananthapuram.
There was also a rush at the state-run Supplyco supermarkets and many other grocery stores.
"Since we are advised not to go out unnecessarily, we have bought groceries for a month. We are a little worried about how things will get worse. I avoided a get-together on Saturday night which was held by some of my colleagues," said Anil, a government employee.
Petrol bunks were also crowded on Saturday and Sunday. "From yesterday evening, there was a huge rush to fill fuel. â€œI thought it people wanted to fill before the prices rise. But later, everyone said that there is an alert in the district. We have been using masks for a while now," said Latha, an employee at a petrol pump in Ulloor.
Photos : Sreekesh Raveendran Nair