Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Monday said that several people had not followed the lockdown guidelines and called the behaviour “unacceptable”. He also said that conditions of the lockdown would be enforced more stringently if people did not stay indoors.
Replying to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet urging people to stay indoors, Kejriwal wrote, “I agree with you. Many people violated the lockdown today. This is unacceptable. This endangers everyone’s lives. This (lockdown) will be strictly imposed in Delhi.”
After several people and cars stayed off the road during Sunday’s ‘janata curfew’, Monday — despite the Delhi government announcing a lockdown until March 31 — saw a substantial number of vehicles and people out on the roads. Many claimed they were part of ‘essential services’ — which are allowed to function — or that they were out to buy groceries. On Sunday, Kejriwal had said that no proof would be asked and the system would be based on trust.
As the roads remained populated despite the lockdown, Kejriwal said Monday: “We need your cooperation. Everyone will have to follow the lockdown. It started today and maybe you had urgent work and had to go out. From tomorrow onward, we will have to be stricter.” He did not elaborate on what the stricter measures were.
According to officials, police could be asked to have a zero tolerance policy and everyone will be asked for proof if they are out of the house. On Monday itself, police had started checking identity cards of people to ascertain if they were out for a legitimate reason.
Pointing to the quick growth of COVID-19 in Italy and US, Kejriwal said: “We do not want to cause you trouble but we are doing it for the sake of your health and life. Coronavirus is very dangerous, it is a global pandemic. We have observed how even in developed countries thousands of people have died… We are lucky that the virus reached Delhi a little late and we could learn from others… We have learnt and taken steps. If we take a look at Italy, it had 100 cases a month ago on February 23. Today, it has around 40,000 cases and over 5,000 people have died. In America, there were 68 cases on February 29 and one person had died. Today they have 35,000 cases and 418 people have died… Don’t think it won’t happen to you, the virus does not consider gender or class. The only way to stop it is to stay indoors during lockdown and break the chain of transmission.”
Kejriwal said that there were 23 cases in Delhi where the patients had travelled abroad. “They have transmitted the virus to 7 other people. It seems the situation in Delhi is under control so far but we cannot be complacent. If we are able to control its spread right, it will be great. If it spreads, and Delhi gets 15,000 to 20,000 cases, it won’t have adequate hospital beds. We will have to lockdown then as well but it will not be effective. If there are no beds in hospitals, how will people be saved? I request you all, the Centre and states have announced a lot of measures. We need your cooperation. Everyone will have to follow the lockdown.”
Kejriwal also said that the government will take strict action against private operators who cut wages of employees. “Show humanity — don’t let anyone starve, continue paying people their wages. The government will be very strict about this. In fact, pay people some amount in advance to help them tide over this time. Many poor people are living on rent. I urge landlords to delay the collection of rent,” he said .
The government also decided to distribute mid-day meals to children at homes.
While only 25% of the DTC fleet was operational on Monday, it will be increased to 50% starting Tuesday. “Several essential staff faced problems. We will increase the operational bus fleet,” Kejriwal said.
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