01:15 GMT01 August 2021
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    After battling a second wave of COVID between April and May, Indian cities are gradually returning to normal lives after lockdowns. Having struggled with prolonged periods of isolation and a harsh summer, North Indians, especially Delhiites, are enjoying the return to normalcy, going to city markets and heading to the Himalayas.

    In response to violations of safety protocols against the spread of COVID, the Delhi government imposed a lockdown in several markets located in the capital's central area over the weekend. 

    All shopkeepers in central Delhi's Sadar Bazaar, along with Lajpat Nagar's Central Market and Rui Mandi (cotton market), have been directed to pull down the shutters over their respective businesses there. 

    These old and popular market areas that have vintage shops, cheap street stalls, as well as high-end luxury stores for furniture, clothing, cotton, ornaments along with foods and beverages. The wide diversity of items that can be found in these old markets attract thousands of shoppers and merchants on a daily basis. 

    "We understand that people were exhausted of staying at home, but they have to be responsible for the safety of themselves and others. Everybody saw how the situations worsened in Delhi during the second wave and now there's another highly infections variant on the loose. Even vaccinated people must wear masks as precautions", a Delhi police official told Sputnik. 

    In search for some relaxation from the lockdown woes and COVID, Delhi-based students, young professionals, and families are heading to the Himalayan states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh for short vacations. 

    Pictures of crowded streets in the mountain-town Manali in Himachal Pradesh have led Indians to discuss the situation on social media, along with sharing visuals. 

    ​Manu Rana, reservations manager at a Manali-based resort, revealed to Sputnik that several hotels and hostels in the region were only providing rooms at 50 percent occupancy and maintaining proper sanitisation. 

    "People from Delhi, Punjab, Bihar and Haryana states usually also visit Himachal and Uttarakhand during these months. They come here seeking relief from the scorching summers in their areas. This year however, their visits have brought along fears of a third COVID wave", Rana said. 

    He further added that both of the Himalayan northern states earn a major chunk of their revenues from the tourism industry - that has taken major hits due to the COVID situation. 

    "Since March last year, our businesses here have remained dry. Lockdowns and then fears of contracting the infection have kept people away from public places. Had the government done something to help people who lost employment during the lockdowns... their desperation to get back as much business as possible now, seems understandable. People must be self-aware to research about the crowd situations of the places they are planning to visit", the 33-year old manager said. 

    India lost over 66,000 people to the second wave of COVID. The horrors of the situation, including shortages of oxygen and the lack of land for cremations and burials of dead COVID patients, made global headlines. 

    While India is ramping up awareness and numbers around vaccinations, Delhi High Court and medical experts from Mumbai have warned that a third wave of COVID will approach sooner than expected, given the crowded scenes around the nation. 

     

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