Yangyel Lhaden & Yeshey Lhadon

Even as numerous measures have been put in place to encourage physical distancing, particularly in public places, non-observance remains the biggest challenge.

In Thimphu, places like the hospital, town area, cremation ground, and public transport stations are usually crowded.

Sonam Phuntsho, a 70-year-old man from Zhemgang, visits the hospital at least once a week. However, he avoids the crowd because he understands the importance of maintaining physical distance. He takes public health advice seriously.

He also said that crowding at the hospital was growing by the day. “If the mass gathering happens at this rate, the risk of infection will be high.” Personal responsibility, he added, was more important than depending on health workers to monitor physical distancing.

Desuups have joined JDWNRH’s security team to ensure physical distancing.

Sonam Dorji, a Desuup said that the movement of patients was frequent. Plans are being made to control crowds at the hospital.

Cremation ground at Hejo is also crowded most of the time. Desuup and police are seen trying to control the crowd and to advise the people to maintain physical distance.

Norzin Lam, the main thoroughfare, is busy with vehicles and people, especially during the day.

The owner of TD shop in Norzin Lam said: “I am having a tough time requesting people to maintain physical distance. Some people also get offended and roll their eyes at me. We have been reminding customers time and again to refrain from overcrowding.”

Restaurants, however, have begun seeing fewer people.

Sarita, who runs Ronath Restaurant, said that physical distancing was followed strictly at her restaurant. “Many seem to be aware of social distancing. There has not been any problem so far.”

Financial institutions are also often crowded with customers and visitors. BoB’s city branch on Monday saw over 600 visitors.

The situation is similar to bus station in Lungtenzampa. Booking clerks at the ticketing counter said that over-crowding took place around the counter and people had to be directed to the designated spots.

Sangay Dema, a ticket seller said: “Hardly a day passes by without telling people to mind physical gap. I think people are taking physical distancing lightly.”