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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Cases sliding, restaurants in Delhi to reopen; all shops in markets, malls

On Sunday, Delhi registered 255 new cases with a 0.35 per cent positivity rate and 23 deaths. Between June 7 — when markets, malls, and the Metro were reopened with restrictions — and June 13, the city registered 1,895 cases and 232 deaths.

Written by Sourav Roy Barman | New Delhi |
Updated: June 14, 2021 6:59:39 am
At Khan Market in New Delhi on Sunday. Markets will be allowed to fully open starting Monday. (Express photo by Rahul Sabharwal)

With the number of active Covid-19 cases falling to 3,466 on Sunday from 5,208 a week ago, the Delhi government has announced a further reopening of the city, allowing eating out and lifting more restrictions on shops.

From Monday, restaurants can offer limited dine-in services, barber shops can reopen, and markets and shopping malls can operate normally.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said during an online briefing on Sunday that it was imperative to revive the economy as many people were struggling to make ends meet. But this has to be done while keeping an eye on the possibility of a new wave of infections, and beefing up medical infrastructure, the Chief Minister said.

Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Dev issued an order on behalf of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) saying that case numbers and the test positivity rates have declined considerably and the overall situation has improved — “but due caution and care has to be maintained for consolidating the whole process of Covid-19 management”.

The current ‘odd-even’ restriction on shops in markets and malls — meaning only half the shops can be open on any day — has now been removed. All shops can open, though only between 10 am and 8 pm. From Monday, one weekly market will be allowed in each municipal zone in the capital.

Standalone shops and colony shops selling essentials such as groceries, and milk booths can stay open beyond 8 pm. There will be no specific restrictions on shops selling non-essential goods and services, such as liquor vends.

The Delhi Metro and buses will operate at 50 per cent seating capacity. Standing commutes are still not allowed. Cabs, auto-rickshaws, and e-rickshaws can ferry up to two passengers at a time.

There will be no curbs on inter-state movement of people and goods. This means one can move freely between Delhi and Noida, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad or Faridabad, etc.

Restaurants can function at 50 per cent capacity. All Covid-19 appropriate norms will have to be followed. Liquor cannot be served at restaurants, and bars and pubs will remain closed.

The relaxations have been allowed on a trial basis until June 20. If norms are flouted, causing a spike in cases, markets, malls and restaurants “shall be closed forthwith”, the DDMA order states.

Barbershops and salons too, can reopen from Monday. However, spas, gymnasiums, and yoga institutes will remain closed. Cinemas and multiplexes will remain shut.

Parks and gardens will stay closed, the order says. However, RWAs across the city have opened many parks for residents.

Swimming pools and sports complexes also cannot reopen yet. These facilities can, however, be used for training by sportspersons participating in national or international events. They can also be used for organising national and international sports events.

Visitors and devotees are not allowed at places of worship; the managements of those places are expected to carry out rituals internally.

For private offices, the existing arrangement of 9 am to 5 pm daily operations with 50 per cent staff shall continue. At Delhi government offices, Grade-I officers will be present in full strength; other staff will be called as per requirement.

Health and Family Welfare-related and all related medical establishments, police, prisons, home guards, civil defence, fire and emergency services, power, water and sanitation, public transport (air/railways/Delhi Metro/buses), and all services that are considered essential shall function without any restrictions, the order says.

Schools, colleges, and coaching institutes will remain shut. All social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural, religious, festival-related gatherings will remain prohibited. Banquet halls, auditoriums, assembly halls, amusement parks, and business-to-business exhibitions will also remain barred.

The order specifically states that no permission is required from any authority for undertaking activities that are being permitted.

On Sunday, Delhi registered 255 new cases with a 0.35 per cent positivity rate and 23 deaths. Between June 7 — when markets, malls, and the Metro were reopened with restrictions — and June 13, the city registered 1,895 cases and 232 deaths.

“The coronavirus situation is coming under control in Delhi. The cases have reduced significantly and right now the only concern is to bring back the economy on track while making all arrangements to tackle a possible third wave,” Kejriwal said.

“On Saturday, we inaugurated 22 new oxygen plants (PSA), and the day before that we inaugurated oxygen storage tanks of 171 MT (metric tonnes) combined capacity. Several arrangements are being made for the third wave. But I know many people whose lives have become difficult because of the loss of means of livelihood,” he said.

As the second wave battered Delhi in April and May, the government announced a lockdown on April 19, the day the capital registered 23,686 new cases. Restrictions were tightened on May 10, and Metro services were stopped.

The first set of relaxations were announced on May 30, when permission was granted for construction work and factories. On June 7, markets, malls and the Metro reopened at 50 per cent capacity.

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