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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Delhi: Full un-lockdown unlikely, city will adopt phased approach

Chief Minister Arvind Keriwal attended the meeting with the Prime Minister through video conferencing on Monday, though he was not among the nine CMs who spoke.

Written by Mallica Joshi | New Delhi | April 28, 2020 2:00:33 am
Policemen at work wearing a face shield in New Delhi on Monday.

The Delhi government is looking to extend the lockdown in the national capital beyond May 3, albeit with a few relaxations, officials said.

Chief Minister Arvind Keriwal attended the meeting with the Prime Minister through video conferencing on Monday, though he was not among the nine CMs who spoke.

The consensus among Delhi government officials is that lifting of the lockdown in a week’s time will be counter-productive. “We are looking at opening up in a phased manner. Containment zones, in any case, will not be opened up till the time no case is reported among the population living there for 28 days. Other than these, we are looking at which districts have the least cases and perhaps some relaxations can be given in sub-divisions in these districts. If, let’s say, a few sub-divisions have not seen a single case, we can look at opening more stores than are allowed at present. But no state is in a condition to completely open up next week,” said a senior government official.

The final decision, though, will depend on the Centre’s call.

The lockdown in the city began on March 23, two days before the nationwide lockdown was imposed. Delhi has the second highest number of cases after Maharashtra. On Sunday, 293 people tested positive. Kejriwal Sunday said that following the lockdown rigorously can help contain the spread.

Another official The Indian Express spoke to said the lockdown can only be lifted in a phased manner for it to be effective. “If we open up immediately, there is a big chance that we will see a spike. Delhi has high population density, and we have to consider the decision to open up very carefully. Depending on the number of cases we see in the next six days, we will have to take a decision on opening up, that too in a phased manner. Since such a high percentage of people are asymptomatic or only have mild symptoms, a hasty decision could overwhelm our medical facilities,” he said.

Restaurants, hotels, salons and other service and contact-based business are expected to remain shut even beyond May 3. Malls and big markets, too, are not expected to open next week.

“Offices might remain shut for at least two more weeks. A few more categories of businesses might be allowed to restart functioning, but what these are is yet to be assessed. We are already following the MHA guidelines on opening neighbourhood shops and have seen crowds in a few areas, which can prove dangerous. We have to move ahead cautiously,” the official said.

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