Hotels in the Capital can finally reopen, with the Delhi government and Lt-Governor Anil Baijal’s office resolving their differences on the issue during a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Wednesday.
A decision was also taken to delink banquet halls from hospitals and allow weekly markets “on a trial basis”, officials from the L-G house said. The Chief Minister’s Office said gyms will remain shut as of now.
“The corona situation in Delhi is much better. The economy of Delhi has to be brought on track. For this, we had proposed opening all hotels in Delhi, which was rejected by the Central government. We again requested the Central government, and we are happy that the proposal has been approved. Now, all hotels in Delhi will open. At the same time, weekly markets will be allowed to open on a trial basis. In the meantime, everyone must exercise precautions and follow social distancing,” Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said.
On July 31, Baijal had overturned a Delhi government decision to reopen hotels, within 24 hours of the announcement, saying the situation in the city was “fragile” and the threat from the coronavirus far from over. On August 6, the state government had sent a fresh proposal.
There are around 55 five-star hotels, 120 four-star facilities, around 1,800 three-star hotels and over 1,500 budget hotels in the Capital. According to government estimates, hotels contribute to 8% of Delhi’s GDP, the service sector accounts for 60% of all jobs, while weekly bazaars provide employment to nearly 5 lakh families.
Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Dev was directed to prepare an SOP to ensure social distancing at the weekly markets, which are held in the city’s densely populated neighbourhoods. “Delhi cannot afford to let its guard down till the situation is normalised. We should strictly adhere to all the guidelines related to Covid-19, both at the individual and community level,” an L-G house official said.
While welcoming the Delhi government’s announcement regarding reopening of hotels last month, the hospitality industry had pointed out that they were up against challenges such as staff crunch and lapsed licences.
As the decision was finally cleared Wednesday, the management of several top hotel chains said they are adopting stringent hygiene standards and technologies against Covid-19.
“Every team member has undergone mandatory hygiene, safety, sanitisation and social distancing training from training managers and domain experts. We are following all the standard protocols defined by the authorities,” Area General Manager, The Park, Rohit Arora said.
Vice-President (Development and Asset Management) InterGlobe Hotels Shwetank Singh pointed out that hotels in other parts of the country had reopened already and said the Delhi decision was timely. “Now hoteliers can work out their strategies and work towards revival. With significant reduction in the number of active cases in Delhi and removal of night curfew, we strongly believe hotels can look at improved occupancies and better footfalls over the next two quarters,” Singh said.
Reopening of gyms, though, was deferred once again as the L-G expressed concerns over spread of the virus in closed spaces. The Centre had earlier issued guidelines for reopening of gyms, fitness centres and yoga institutes. Gyms are functioning in Delhi’s neighbouring satellite towns such as Gurgaon, Faridabad and Noida.
Banquet halls had been linked to hospitals in June following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases, to meet the demand for beds. However, now, of the 14,112 available beds in Delhi, over 10,500 are vacant.
Apart from the CM, L-G and Chief Secretary, an official of the Union Home Ministry, Commissioner of Police S N Shrivastava, ICMR Director General Prof Balram Bhargava, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, and National Centre for Disease Control Director Dr Surjit Kumar Singh were present at the DDMA meeting.
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