Throwing the mandatory safety protocols to the wind, people thronged the flower markets in the city for shopping ahead of Saraswathi and Ayudha Puja celebrations here on Saturday.
The prices of flowers, including jasmine and button rose, touched a new high in the Kamarajar and VOC Markets.
Hundreds of farmers from Srivaikundam, Eral, Sawyerpuram, Kulayankarisal, Kurumbur, Alwartirunagari and among other pockets brought in their produce from early morning onwards.
Other than the flowers, decorative items and puja materials were selling at a fancy price, Nagarajan, a flower merchant said and added that jasmine was the most expensive flower. Though the markets had good arrivals, the demand was also very high, he added.
With people rushing to the flower markets, there was relatively less activity in bazaar areas, where many wholesale and retail grocers had little sales through the day, Vincent a dhal merchant said and added that until Deepavali, the sales may not be very brisk as customers would go for textile and cracker shopping.
Though the police were visible in the markets, they were unable to stop people who were not wearing face masks. The outlets in the VOC Market too were packed heavily till 11 a.m., and many of the farmers and merchants too were not wearing the mask, a sanitary inspector from the health department of Thoothukudi Corporation said and added that the civic authorities made announcements through public address system at vantage locations, but these appeared to have fallen on deaf ears.
A medical officer at the Thoothukudi GH said that there were fever cases coming in from a few wards in the Corporation limits and it showed that there was an urgent need for self-discipline among all residents. Any negligence, may see a surge in COVID-19, he apprehended and hoped the people extended their fullest cooperation for the next 60 days.
In a press release, Collector Sandeep Nanduri said on Saturday that the residents should stay indoors and avoid crowding. In the event of stepping out, he appealed to the people to wear face masks and adhere to physical distancing. He also warned that stern action would be taken against erring shopkeepers under the Disaster Management Act and showrooms sealed, if they failed to follow safety protocol.