The Delhi government has deferred the decision on implementing the relaxations offered under unlock 5.0 guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs, with Chief Secretary Vijay Dev ordering “status quo”.
The “status quo”, which will continue to keep schools and cinema halls shut among other restrictions, will be in force till October 31 “or further orders, whichever is earlier”, according to the order issued by Dev, in his capacity as the chairperson of the state executive committee of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA).
The trial run of allowing bars and weekly markets, which was launched on September 9, has been extended till October 31. Under the prevailing arrangements, two weekly markets are allowed per day per zone in all three municipal corporation areas. The Delhi government had previously ordered that all schools in the capital will remain shut till October 5.
The order stated that all social, academic, entertainment, cultural, religious, political functions and other gatherings and large congregations will continue to be prohibited across the city. “However, maximum 50 people will be allowed in marriage-related gatherings and maximum 20 people are allowed in funeral and last rites-related gatherings subject to social distancing,” the order said.
On Wednesday, the MHA issued its unlock 5.0 guidelines under which states and UTs have been authorised to take a call on whether to open schools from October 15 and also allow cinemas and multiplexes to open with 50% capacity from the same date.
“The DDMA will take a considered decision on whether to implement the MHA guidelines soon. For now, the Delhi government had suggested that all weekly markets be allowed to open but L-G Anil Baijal has turned down the request. So two markets per zone will continue open as usual,” a Delhi government official said, requesting anonymity.
The MHA has also relaxed limits on gatherings, both outdoor and indoor. “Now State/UT governments have been given flexibility to permit such gatherings beyond the limit of 100 persons outside containment zones, after October 15, 2020,” the MHA said. However, for indoor spaces, gatherings can’t exceed 50% of the hall capacity or 200 people.
Meanwhile, cinema owners called the latest guidelines optimistic. “… We are hopeful that the state governments will give us the green signal and allow us to resume operations within the specified guidelines,” said Alok Tandon, CEO, INOX Leisure Ltd.
The Multiplex Association of India (MAI) said in a statement, “An urgent permission from the state governments to reopen cinemas in their states would go a substantial distance in ensuring that the cinema exhibition sector is able to quickly recover from the dire economic and financial impact of the epidemic.”
On Thursday, Delhi reported 3,037 fresh Covid cases. The death toll increased to 5,401, with 40 new deaths reported.
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