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Friday Market re-opens at 50 percent capacity

KUWAIT: Several photos showing people standing in line waiting to enter the Friday Market, and stalls inside the market yesterday. – Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat and Ben Garcia

By Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: The Friday Market in Al-Rai reopened yesterday and unlike the brief reopening on July 9, which only lasted for few hours because of over-crowding, this time however, the management has decided to reduce the number of stalls inside the market of up to 50 percent only. The huge space inside the market and the distance between stores to the next are evident.

The entry point or gate is being closely monitored in an air-conditioned tent by cameras to check the temperature of everyone entering the market. Unlike the normal market days at Friday Market, only two entry and exit points are opened for customers. The remaining eight gates of the market are closed.

Promis, a Bangladeshi vendor, confirmed that the management is now strictly observing health protocols inside the market. “We have our own gate pass to enter or leave the premises,” he said. “They are telling us to properly observe social distancing inside the market. They already reduced the number of stalls; you see the empty stalls and space. They also tell us that only one attendant is allowed per store, so my friend and I agreed to sell our goods together in one store and we agreed to alternate during the next three days. I will stay in the store one day, and on the next day, he will come and attend the store. At least we both earn something.”

Friday Market was initially reopened on July 9, but Kuwait Municipality sealed it later in the evening due to crowding and lack of social distancing. On March 13, the Municipality closed the market as a precautionary measure to stop the spread of COVID-19. The reopening of the market yesterday means new measures have been taken to prevent overcrowding. The Friday Market is very popular among people looking for used items and cheap goods.

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