April 16, 2021 4:30:55 am
A DAY after the city recorded the highest single-day spike (17,282 cases), the Delhi government on Thursday announced fresh restrictions to check the spread of Covid-19, including a weekend curfew, closure of shopping malls, auditoriums, gyms, spas, bars and dine-in services at restaurants.
The national capital recorded 16,699 new cases and 112 deaths on Thursday. The positivity rate, however, increased from 16 per cent on Wednesday to 20 per cent on Thursday, while the number of tests fell from over a lakh to about 80,000.
Announcing the new restrictions, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said: “Weekend curfew will be imposed in the city. On weekdays, people go out to earn. During weekends, people mostly go out for entertainment purposes. So to break the chain of transmission, weekend curbs are being enforced.”
An order issued by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) said the “weekend curfew on movement of individuals” would be from “10 pm Friday (April 16) to 5 am Monday (April 19)”. The other curbs, along with night curfew which was imposed earlier, will stay till April 30.
According to the DDMA order, “all shopping malls, gyms, spas, auditoriums, assembly halls, entertainment parks and similar places will be closed” through the week. However, cinema halls/ multiplexes will be allowed to operate with 30 per cent capacity.
“Bars and restaurants shall not be allowed to operate. Restaurants may give only home delivery, takeaway,” says the order. Also, “only one weekly market per day per zone” will be allowed.
During the weekend, while restrictions have been imposed on movement of people, those engaged in essential services have been exempted. These include government officials, police, health workers, pregnant women and other patients, people travelling to and from airports, railway stations and ISBTs, electronic and print media.
Public transport like buses, Metro, cabs and autos will be allowed to ply during the weekend for those falling in the exempted categories.
Curfew passes will be issued to people engaged in running shops selling medicines, groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy and milk booths, meat and fish; people working in banks, telecom/ internet services, delivery of essential goods, petrol pumps; those going for Covid-19 vaccination.
Those attended weddings and funerals during the weekend will also be issued e-passes by the district authorities – 50 people for weddings, 20 for funerals.
There will be no restrictions on inter-state or intra-state movement or transportation of essential or non-essential goods.
Delhi was under complete lockdown between March 22 and May 18 last year. Beginning May 19, the city reopened in phases.
The decision to bring back the curbs was taken at a meeting attended by Kejriwal, Lt Governor Anil Baijal and top officials of the Delhi administration. Kejriwal had earlier announced that he was not in favour of a lockdown, but would have no other option if hospitals started running out of beds.
“There is no shortage of beds in Delhi. Over 5,000 beds are available and we are trying to add more beds, including those with oxygen support. But cases are rising and the government has taken a few measures,” he said on Thursday.
According to the Delhi government’s dashboard at 6 pm Thursday, of the 15,346 beds for Covid-19 patients in Delhi, 4,632 are vacant. In case of ICU beds, only 494 out of 3,805 are available. However, multiple accounts have emerged on social media complaining that the ground situation is worse than the dashboard data.
Kejriwal later told NDTV that L-G Baijal would approach the Centre for more beds in hospitals that fall under the Union government. Asked about the possibility of a prolonged lockdown, Kejriwal replied: “The situation is extraordinary so the weekend curfew is being imposed. And this will remain in force only this coming weekend… As on date, a lockdown does not look necessary. I have always been against lockdowns…but today we have a 20 per cent positivity rate. If it dips, then there is no reason to worry. But if it goes on rising, to what extent will we be able to add beds? After all there are limited doctors and nurses.”
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