Elite “Townies” of Mumbai Crowding Marine Drive, You’re Adding to Coronavirus Woes


Elite “Townies” of Mumbai Crowding Marine Drive, You’re Adding to Coronavirus Woes

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

“Iff you give someone an inch, they’ll take a mile,” they say. It certainly seems to be the case with Mumbaikars who are taking to the streets of Mumbai as kids to the playground after their final exams. As the Maharashtra government introduced some relaxations from May 31, hundreds were seen on Marine Drive, running and jogging around, blatantly flouting social distancing norms.

Perhaps the elite “townies” of South Mumbai are immune to the coronavirus, who knows?

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Given that public transport is shut, one can safely assume that most of the people flocking Marine Drive are those from surrounding areas. Aside from Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Taimur Ali Khan and  his nanny, who probably drove down from Bandra and were checked by a cop on duty. If the rich, educated, and privileged class of Mumbai, with ample access to information, is going to disregard the severity of the problem, it paints a bleak picture for the ability of the city to deal with this deadly virus. But that hasn’t stopped anyone from heading out for their routine jog as if all is fine and dandy. This doesn’t seem to be the right time to flaunt the “Spirit of Mumbai”.

Doctor Saloni Desai took to Facebook to point out that, “All ICUs everywhere around the city are full. All ventilators are taken. There are entire families in different wards of hospitals, who can’t see each other, just praying for their loved ones. And this is how Mumbaikars are paying us back? The opening of lockdown does not mean Covid has vanished. It is here, very much to stay, and we must adapt to it. Essential economic activities have started but is it necessary to flog Marine Drive right now at the peak of the pandemic? There is no herd immunity at present, and for it to develop lakhs will have to die. You could be one of them.”

Mumbai Police, known for being always on point with its smart puns and pop culture references reminded people to maintain a six-feet distance, for the battle has not been won yet. In fact, if experts are to be believed, cases are set to rise as we unlock the economy.

It is perhaps a sign of things to come in the Maximum City. The first day of Unlock 1.0 has already seen bumper-to-bumper traffic on Western Express Highway. Private offices are allowed to work with 10% of their staff, and most organisations have asked employees who own vehicles to show up to work.

The office going crowd has gathered in large numbers on the streets, from bus stops to main roads, so they can get a ride in their private or company bus. Social distancing is scarce and it makes for ominous signs.

Maharashtra’s tally of coronavirus cases has surpassed China’s and Mumbai itself accounts for over 48,000 cases. Along with health precautionary measures like wearing masks and using hand sanitisers, social distancing is the only hope for the city. While office-going people are left with little choice, those flocking to Marine Drive can probably save their “fitness goals” for another day.