NEW DELHI: Delhi will live under a curfew this weekend, largely indoors — from 10pm on Friday till 5am on Monday — chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Thursday in an effort to check the alarming surge in Covid cases. All non-essential movement of individuals, including that of domestic helps, will be prohibited during this period and all non-essential shops, including the ones selling liquor, will be shut.
The CM also announced that even on weekdays, malls, bars, restaurants, gyms, spas, entertainment parks and auditoriums will remain closed till April 30. These stricter curbs are aimed at breaking the chain of coronavirus transmission.
While restaurants will not be allowed to receive diners till the month-end, home delivery and takeaways from these establishments will be allowed. Cinema halls have been permitted to operate on weekdays (up to 10pm this Friday) with only 30% capacity.
Delhi recorded 16,699 fresh cases on Thursday with 82,569 tests being conducted a day before, taking the positivity rate to an alarming 20.22%. What’s worse, 112 people died of the disease in 24 hours. This is the second highest number of fatalities in a day across the country after Maharashtra, which reported a maximum 349 deaths. Earlier, on Wednesday, 104 people had died due to Covid-19 in Delhi.
Several of Delhi’s neighbouring cities also recorded their sharpest single-day spike in cases till date on Thursday — Gurgaon registered 1,434 new infections, Noida reported 489 cases while Ghaziabad added 538.
Keeping the wedding season in mind, the Delhi government has decided that during the weekend curfew, movement for wedding-related gatherings of up to 50 people and funeral-related gatherings of up to 20 people will be allowed. E-passes will be issued for the weddings.
The restrictions were announced by the CM at a press conference after he held a high-level meeting with lieutenant governor Anil Baijal and senior officials to review the Covid situation.
Kejriwal said that for now a curfew had been declared only for this weekend. The Covid situation will be monitored daily, and only if the need arises, curfew will be imposed on the subsequent weekends, he said.
Curbs have also been imposed on weekly markets in the city. Only one weekly market per week per zone will be allowed to function. The zonal officer of the municipal corporation concerned will select the ones which will open.
A Delhi Disaster Management Authority order, issued later in the day, said: “The situation of Covid-19 has been reviewed and it has been observed that there has been a sharp increase in cases during the last few days along with a high positivity rate. Therefore, it is felt that in order to contain the fast spread of virus, additional prohibition and restriction on certain activities and a weekend curfew need to be imposed in Delhi.”
The order, however, lacks clarity on some points which may give the enforcement officials scope for interpreting it in their own way, some of which could be arbitrary. For example, it is not clear whether students who are planning to sit for competitive exams scheduled for Sunday can appear or not.
According to the DDMA order, during the weekend curfew, there is complete restriction on the movement of all individuals except government officials, police and those engaged in sanitation, all modes of public transport (such as handling of cargo) and all other essential services. All private medical personnel and others engaged in hospital services, like pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies, can travel on production of a valid I-card.
Pregnant women and patients can commute for getting medical and health services like Covid tests on a trust basis. People coming from or going to the airport, railway stations and bus stands will also be allowed to travel on production of a valid ticket. Those working for the electronic and print media, too, can go about their business on the production of a valid I-card.
All public transport facilities, including Delhi Metro and private taxis, would be allowed to operate during the weekend curfew but can carry only those moving for essential purposes. All inter-state and intra-state movement and transportation of essential and non-essential goods will be allowed without any separate permission.
All individuals engaged in essential services like banks, telecommunication, home delivery of essential goods, including food and medicines, and people going for Covid-19 vaccination will be allowed during the weekend curfew with e-passes. Passes can be obtained by applying on the Delhi govt website, www.delhi.gov.in. “Passes will be issued promptly,” said Kejriwal.
People who have valid night curfew passes can use them for essential travel during the weekend curfew, said an official. No inter-state movement in personal vehicles will be allowed for non-essential purposes. For urgent cases, people would need a movement pass from the district administration.
Violators of the weekend curfew will be prosecuted under the relevant laws.
“We have been noticing a callous attitude towards wearing masks and observing social distancing. This is not good for your safety and security,” said Kejriwal, addressing the press conference. “These restrictions are being put in place for you, your families, your health, your lives. We understand that these restrictions might create inconvenience for you but also hope that you understand the need for these restrictions in the present conditions and will support the government.” Kejriwal pointed out that on weekends people usually travel for leisure purposes.
The CM said despite the rapid surge in Covid cases, hospital management in Delhi was under control. “There is no dearth of beds in Delhi as more than 5,000 beds are available in the context of the rising coronavirus cases,” Kejriwal said. He advised people not to insist on a particular hospital for admission.
Source :Google News