March 28, 2021 2:29:26 am
Several enforcement teams will fan out across the capital to ensure public gatherings are not held during Holi on Monday. There will be at least one team for each of the 11 districts, comprising officials from the district administration and police, Health Minister Satyendar Jain said.
Earlier this week, following a spike in Covid cases, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) had passed an order prohibiting people from gathering in large numbers in public for festivals such as Holi and Shab-e-Baraat.
“Holi is an important festival, please celebrate it, but at home. The festival will come again next year. But in big gatherings, even if there are two Covid-19 carriers, the chance of it spreading increases. Don’t hold any super-spreader events… There will be at least one team in each district and it will comprise people from the office of the District Magistrate and police. They will ensure compliance. Violators will be booked under relevant rules,” Jain said.
The DDMA Saturday also passed orders restricting the permissible number of people attending gatherings such as weddings and funerals. For weddings and other gatherings in closed spaces, the order says, a maximum of 50% of the seating capacity will be allowed, with a ceiling of 100 people. In open spaces, the numbers will be decided by the group size, but no more than 200 people will be allowed. Rules such as wearing masks and thermal scanning will have to be followed, it stated. For funerals, no more than 50 people will be allowed.
The Delhi Police, meanwhile, said there will be additional deployment at public places like parks, grounds, markets and malls to avoid large gatherings.
Delhi Police PRO Chinmoy Biswal released a video on Saturday, appealing to people to avoid public gatherings and celebrate at home. “There’s a strict ban on playing Holi at public gatherings like roads, parks and grounds. Nobody is allowed to go out and violate these norms. We will take strict legal action against those found playing Holi outside in large gatherings,” Biswal said.
Covid cases in the city have been rising for the past three weeks, with 1,558 being reported on Saturday. In February, Delhi managed to bring daily cases to an average of 130 per day.
‘Lockdown not a solution’
Jain also said there is no plan to impose a lockdown in Delhi. “As of now, there is no possibility of another lockdown. We had tried it earlier with not much success. Experts had said that due to its 14-day cycle, a 21-day lockdown would stop the spread of the virus but this did not happen. So for me, lockdown is no solution,” he said.
With an increase in the number of cases, Jain said the number of hospital beds will be increased if the need arises. At present, he said, around 80% of beds earmarked for Covid patients are empty. “The trend of cases has to be closely observed for a week,” he said.
On Saturday, over 90,000 people were tested in the city. Jain said 30-40 contacts of each Covid patient are being traced to contain the spread quickly.
So far, around 10 lakh people have received the first dose of the Covid vaccine. “From April 1, vaccination for those above the age of 45 will start. The problem we were facing earlier was that people who might not necessarily be tech-savvy were not able to register; even after registration, some are not able to visit the hospital on the assigned date due to some other preoccupations. The government has provided a window from 3 pm to 9 pm where one can avail the vaccine without registration… People working in offices for six days a week with a leave on Sunday were not able to take out time for the vaccination which also only takes place 6 days a week. So we extended the time to 9 pm… We have vaccines in sufficient numbers,” he said.
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