Delhi govt bars assembly of over 50 people to contain spread of coronavirus

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
Mar 17, 2020 07:03 AM IST

While the government has allowed weddings, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said all weekly markets, gymnasiums, nightclubs and spas in the city will also remain shut till March 31 in addition to educational institutions, cinema halls and swimming pools.

The Delhi government on Monday imposed a complete ban on social, religious, academic, cultural and political gatherings of more than 50 people in the national Capital in the third round of sweeping restrictions announced to contain the spread of coronavirus which has affected seven people in Delhi and 119 across the country so far.

A deserted view of Hanuman Temple at Connaught Place in New Delhi, on Monday, March 16, 2020.(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
A deserted view of Hanuman Temple at Connaught Place in New Delhi, on Monday, March 16, 2020.(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)

While the government has allowed weddings, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said all weekly markets, gymnasiums, nightclubs and spas in the city will also remain shut till March 31 in addition to educational institutions, cinema halls and swimming pools.

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On Thursday, the Delhi government had announced closure of all schools and cinema halls till March 31. The next day, the government barred all formal gatherings of over 200 people, including the IPL matches to be held in Delhi.

All restrictions have been imposed under the Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897, which was invoked by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on Thursday to exercise social distancing and avoid community spread of coronavirus. The Act allows district magistrates (DMs) to take action against people not following the rules. Defying the law can lead up to six months imprisonment and R 1,000 fine or both under Section 188 (disobedience to an order duly promulgated by a public servant) of the Indian Penal Code.

“I want to appeal to the people to cooperate with the authorities. The governments are doing whatever they can to contain the outbreak, but it is only with your cooperation that our efforts will be successful. Many countries have witnessed a major outbreak of the virus, which has fortunately not happened in our country. I will also request everyone to stop shaking hands with each other, ensure that you regularly wash your hands and sanitise them properly, and to not touch your face and eyes with hands,” Kejriwal said on Monday.

“The Delhi government has ordered that no social, cultural, family, political, and social gatherings should be held with more than 50 people present at a single gathering till March 31. Even though weddings have been kept out for now, I request people to postpone weddings to a later date, as a preventive measure to control the outbreak of the virus.”

The ban, effective from Monday, will also apply to protests, including the one at Shaheen Bagh.

Kejriwal said it has also been decided to order municipal commissioners and district officers to install mobile washbasins in public places so that people can keep their hands clean. Security guards at buildings would also be given hand sanitisers for people to use when they enter and exit the complex.

So far, Delhi has had seven positive cases of coronavirus out of which two have recovered and released from the hospital. One patient, a 68-year-old woman, has died and four are still undergoing treatment at Safdarjung hospital.

Kejriwal on Monday held a review meeting with all DMs and sub-divisional magistrates (SDMs) of the city through video-conferencing.

Weekly bazars, gyms, nightclubs shut

The government also ordered the closure of all weekly markets, gyms, nightclubs and spas till March 31. This is in addition to previous orders under which schools, colleges, cinema halls, swimming pools and all other educations institutions were declared shut.

A senior government official, however, clarified that as of Monday, no orders were issued for closure of malls, restaurants, bars and pubs which means they will continue to operate as usual though most of the malls and restaurants have reported a drastic fall in the footfall post the emergence of coronavirus.

The L-G on Monday once again directed the revenue department and the municipal corporations to ensure all hotels, motels, guest houses, mall managements, banquet halls, restaurants, eateries, market associations and RWAs maintain proper sanitisation.

Taxis, rickshaws, other public service vehicles being sanitised

Informing about the steps taken by the city government to avoid the spread of the virus through public transport, the Delhi CM said free disinfection has been started by the Delhi government at all its cluster and DTC bus depots.

“All the private taxis, auto-rickshaws, e-rickshaws, Grameen seva and all other public service vehicles can avail our free sanitisation facility at the bus depots to prevent community transmission of the virus,” Kejriwal said.

Transport minister Kailash Gahlot said workers have been disinfecting all Delhi buses daily. Besides, buses which come from other states are not being allowed to enter without a ‘Certificate of Disinfection’ from the respective states.

“Disinfection of public service vehicles will be done at all the DTC and cluster bus depots on a daily basis in two shifts. The first shift will be from 10 AM to 12 PM, whereas the second shift will be from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM,” Gahlot said.

As the Delhi Metro handles lakhs of passengers every day, Kejriwal said his government will consider thermal screening at all Metro stations as a part of checking against coronavirus.

Action against overcharging, hoarding of masks/sanitisers

After receiving complaints from various residents’ welfare associations of sanitisers and masks not being available in the retail market, food and civil supplies minister Imran Hussain on Monday held a review meeting in which he directed officials to take action against shop owners and manufacturers found overcharging, hoarding or black marketing these essential items.

The Delhi government urged people not to hoard these items saying masks are not essential in prevention as it Covid-19 is not an airborne disease.

Pharmacists said that they are now rationing the sale of these items since people are placing bulk orders — 100 to 200 units of each item. “Every day we get customers demanding masks and hand sanitisers in large number. We have got clear instructions from the government and Drugs Control department to keep adequate stock and distribute them properly among the customers,” said Saddam, a pharmacist at Religare Wellness in Vasant Kunj.


    Sweta Goswami writes on politics, urban development, transportation, energy and social welfare. Based in Delhi, she tracks government policies and suggests corrections based on public feedback and on-ground implementation through her reports. She has also covered the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) since its inception.

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