Apart from owners of shops and malls, the pandemic has hit the street vendors hard. While shop keepers and traders went without earning for a while or turned to side businesses, street vendors struggle to make ends meet.
According to Greater Chennai Corporation, 7965 vendors who sold essential items left their job at the beginning of the pandemic. As markets got deserted and cities emptied, vendors lost their source of income which resulted in poverty and immigrating to other places or returning to their villages. A few who ventured out suffered police brutality at the onset of the pandemic.
Post the lockdown, street markets have started reappearing, keeping up with the new normal of masks. Though the business is still difficult, there is relatively more hope. Street vendors have started reaching people in their homes on vehicle or foot. They have also relocated to highways and pavements.
During the lockdown, food kits to ration cardholders and those quarantined by government and non-government organisations served as a relief. The South Asian Association for Gastronomy (SAAG) has launched the campaign to #savestreetfood across India to help vendors overcome the pandemic by giving basic training in hygiene and safety food protocols. Several civic bodies like the Greater Chennai Corporation are also trying to provide cash assistance to the vendors rendered without employment. However, lack of registration of street vendors and lack of active bank accounts serve as a deterrent to receiving aid.