Though the lockdown has been extended till May 31, the new set of relaxations announced on Monday has lifted curbs from most economic activities except the ones related to the hospitality and entertainment sectors.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said operation of Delhi Metro and functioning of educational institutions, shopping malls, cinema halls, swimming pools, bars, hotels and hospitality services will remain prohibited till May 31. Social, religious and academic gatherings too won’t be allowed. This has been spelt out in the guidelines issued by the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA).
Reiterating that the spread of novel coronavirus was not going to end anytime soon, Kejriwal said people will have to learn to live with it till a vaccine was developed. Observing that Delhi has so far registered 10,054 Covid-19 positive cases, including 160 deaths, the chief minister claimed the death toll was quite low in comparison to other states and countries.
While the Centre has recommended opening of barber shops, spas and salons, the chief minister said these services will remain prohibited in the Capital. States and union territories are allowed to prohibit activities or impose more restrictions according to their own assessment.
Restricting the number of passengers allowed to travel in buses (20); taxis and Gramin Sewa (2); auto-rickshaws, e-rickshaws and cycle rickshaws (1); RTV (11); and maxi cabs (5), the government has made the driver responsible for disinfecting the passenger sitting area every time a passenger disembarks. Private cars will be allowed two passengers besides the driver and no pillion rider will be allowed on two-wheelers.
Opening of markets has been allowed on an odd-even basis and staggered working hours have been recommended for private offices, factories and other commercial establishments to ensure social distancing is maintained.
Shops dealing in essential goods, including books, stationery and fans, will continue to open on all days. All neighbourhood and standalone shops will also be allowed to open. Market associations, Delhi Disaster Management Authority (district level) and the labour commissioner have been made responsible for ensuring implementation.
Of the 860-odd liquor shops in Delhi, more than 700 would be allowed to open on alternate days – wherever applicable — under the odd-even system. About 150 shops located in shopping malls will remain closed till May 31.
All shop owners will be responsible for ensuring social distancing and violations will lead to the shop being closed. The CM said it was mandatory for people to wear masks all the time and maintain social distancing, the two essentials to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Industrial establishments with registered names starting with letter A to L will operate from 7.30 am to 5.30am while those with names starting from letter M to Z will function from 8.30am to 6.30pm. Private offices can function with their full strength but have been advised to follow work-from-home as much as possible.
More on Covid-19
The Delhi government has also allowed all construction activities in the capital to resume but barred movement of labourers from other states. E-commerce activities are permitted in the entire city except the containment zones.
No passes will be required by anyone to move around in the city, said the chief minister. In keeping with the Centre’s guidelines, healthcare staff such as doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and sanitation workers will be allowed to cross the inter-state borders along with goods and cargo trucks.
However, the movement of people, unless there is an emergency, will be restricted from 7pm to 7am. Also, people above 65 years of age, those with co-morbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 have been asked to stay at home, except for essential and health purposes.
No relaxation has been given in the 73 containment zones in the capital where the national guidelines allow only essential activities till May 31. Many containment zones, however, are likely to be de-sealed this week.
The Delhi government had earlier this month given partial relaxation in the lockdown by allowing neighbourhood and standalone shops to operate, private offices to function with 33% staff strength and industrial estates to resume operations with access control. It has also allowed self-employed service providers, such as domestic workers, electricians, plumbers, mechanics and others, to resume work.
After the MHA released its revised guidelines on Sunday, Kejriwal had welcomed the move, saying they were in line with the proposals sent by his government, based on suggestions of lakhs of Delhiites. “I am sure that we will defeat corona together,” he said on Monday. “Delhi has had 10,054 cases until now, out of which 4485 people have recovered, which means 45% of the people have recovered,” Kejriwal said. “Delhi government has used the lockdown time to prepare for corona… In the past two months, we have prepared dedicated Covid hospitals, arranged beds, ventilators, testing and PPE kits,” he said.