Despite Covid-19 surge in Delhi, caution not in the picture
- HT visited India Gate, Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi zoo and the Central Park at Connaught Place on Sunday and saw poor compliance with social distancing protocols at some places and poor mask hygiene at all the spots.
On Sunday, when the national capital reported 10,774 fresh Covid-19 cases at a positivity rate of 9.43%, some popular hangout places and tourist spots were teeming with crowds, with physical distancing norms going for a toss. While the footfall at some of the places has reduced compared to last month, distancing and poor mask discipline continued be a concern.
HT visited India Gate, Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi zoo and the Central Park at Connaught Place on Sunday and saw poor compliance with social distancing protocols at some places and poor mask hygiene at all the spots.
Outside the Delhi zoo, people were seen sitting together in groups either without wearing a mask or wearing them below the nose or on the chin. Shabnam, a visitor, said she had stepped out after nearly a year to visit the zoo along with relatives. She said that while the crowd wasn’t much, people were not wearing the mask properly. “Many people are not wearing the mask or wearing it on their chins. We tried to maintain a distance from such people but the government should also keep an eye out and make announcements.”
Ramesh Kumar Pandey, director, Delhi zoo, said they were ensuring compliance with Covid-19 protocols. “The footfall is less, due to which distancing concerns are addressed. Our staff keep reminding people to wear a mask,” said Pandey.
Central Park, CP
The Central Park at Connaught Place was packed with people, who openly flouted distancing norms. Many there were seen without a mask as they hung around the fountain at the park.
Atul Bhargava, president of the New Delhi Traders’ Association, said the government was enforcing the rules properly. He said while the association had put up posters, it was difficult to monitor hawkers and other visitors at Central Park. “The government should shut the park for one month. People go there in large numbers and don’t wear masks. Unfortunately, there is no enforcement and support from either the central or the Delhi government,” alleged Bhargav.
At ASI-protected Humayun’s Tomb, lack of social distancing was spotted near the manual ticket counter. Inside the monument, mask hygiene was poor with people giving up on masks all together as they got busy clicking pictures.
An ASI officer, who didn’t wish to be identified, said: “The security staff has been instructed to ensure that people do not crowd and follow Covid-19 protocols at all times. We have instructed them to sensitise people about the rules in places. However, we can’t chase them, if they do not wear a mask,” said the official.
Among all the places that HT visited on Sunday, enforcement of rules was the harshest at India Gate. While some people were seen not wearing masks, civil defence volunteers kept a close eye on violators.
Ramesh Kumar, a street food vendor, alleged that police and volunteers were arbitrarily penalising people. “The crowd is less since last Tuesday. Most people are wearing masks but volunteers still keep shouting at us. Our earnings have exhausted due to so many curbs,” said Kumar, who hails from Badayun in Uttar Pradesh.
Delhi police spokesperson Chinmoy Biswal said police teams are imposing fines on people who are caught not wearing masks, spitting in public, or not following social distancing at all public places across Delhi daily. “In crowded areas like monuments, tourist places, and parks, people tend to not observe social distancing strictly when they are wearing masks. Our teams intervene and make sure all government guidelines are followed,” the officer said.
Biswal said regular announcements are also made to make people aware of the norms. “In market areas, CCTV cameras are being used and wherever it is seen social distancing is not being followed, our teams are rushed to intervene,” he said.