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Home / Delhi News / First breather for Delhi: Govt to allow relaxations for red zones

First breather for Delhi: Govt to allow relaxations for red zones

In addition, the government on Saturday also started identifying standalone liquor shops that could be opened with social distancing norms.

delhi Updated: May 03, 2020 03:02 IST
Sweta Goswami
Sweta Goswami
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A worker marks circles for social distancing at Okhla Mandi on Saturday.
A worker marks circles for social distancing at Okhla Mandi on Saturday.

The Delhi government will allow all relaxations listed by the Union ministry of home affairs for areas in the ‘red zones’, health minister Satyendar Jain said on Saturday, in a first curtailment of lockdown rules in the national capital since April 20 when the AAP government had refused to allow lowering the bar for containing Covid-19.

In addition, the government on Saturday also started identifying standalone liquor shops that could be opened with social distancing norms.

On April 20, the Delhi government had refused any relaxation which was otherwise allowed by the Central government from April 20. It was only almost a week later that it allowed opening of standalone shops and operation of self-employed electricians, plumbers and water purifier repairmen.

A state-specific order on the fresh lockdown rules, including the additional activities that will be permitted, will be issued by the Delhi government on Sunday. A “limited” lockdown which includes suspension of air, train and inter-state road travel will continue to remain in force for two more weeks from May 4 across the country, but some activities would be allowed after classifications of districts into red, orange and green zones based on Covid-19 risk profiling, the Centre had announced on Friday.

Zone classification breather

Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said all 11 districts in Delhi will be in the red zone till May 17. However, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal requested the Centre on Saturday to demarcate red, orange and green zones on the basis of containment zones and not districts.

Officials explained that the Union health ministry designates any area as red, orange or green zone on district level. Delhi has only 11 districts and it is geographically different to other states. Once the ward-level categorisation plan is ready, it will be sent to the ministry for its approval. If it gets approved, Delhi, which is entirely in the red zone, will have orange and green zones as well, they said.

Till Saturday, the national capital had recorded 4,122 cases of coronavirus and 64 fatalities. On Saturday, 384 new cases were reported. With no new containment zone being identified on Saturday, the total number of such zones in Delhi was 95.

As per the MHA order, none of the relaxations would be applicable to the containment zones.Operation of public transport, taxi services, autorickshaws, barbershops, spas and salons are also explicitly prohibited in the red zones.

Liquor shops

On Saturday, the government also began identifying standalone liquor shops that could be opened with social distancing norms. Liquor is a major revenue earner and sale of liquor had been suspended during the operation of the lockdown till May 3.

“The Centre has laid its guidelines for the entire country on the basis of districts and not containment zones. All the 11 districts of Delhi are in the red zone. So, whatever activities have been permitted by the Centre, the Delhi government will implement them in the city in toto,” said Satyendar Jain, who holds health and home portfolios.

A senior government official said not all liquor vends will be allowed to open. Firstly, they will have to be standalone liquor shops (not part of any market, shopping complex or mall) or those located in neighbourhoods or residential colonies. Secondly, only the stores having L6 and L8 licenses will be permitted. L6 license for retail vend of Indian liquor/beer is granted only to selected undertakings of the Delhi government such as DTTDC, DSIDC, DSCSC and DCCWS. L8 licenses are given to retail vends selling country liquor.

“The number of such shops (with L6 and L8 licences) is more than 500, but that number is not important as not all will be eligible to open because it has to be a standalone shop. So, we have asked our teams to identify such standalone liquor shops across the city,” an official in the excise department said.

A second senior government official said the usual revenue mop up for April is around Rs 3,500 crore. But, this year the government could collect only over Rs 320 crore in April. “If such a situation persists then paying salaries to Delhi government employees could also become tougher,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Movement of people

As per the MHA rules, individuals and vehicles (with a maximum of three occupants in cars and one occupant on two-wheelers) will be allowed. Private offices can operate with 33% staff strength physically present on the premises and the rest working from home, the order states. All government officials, of deputy secretary rank and higher, can function with 100% staff, while 33% staff strength is allowed for other ranks.

Hospital and testing centre for govt officials

Delhi chief secretary Vijay Dev on Saturday appointed a state nodal welfare officer to provide “all necessary help”, including medical treatment and welfare, to Covid-19 positive officers of the Delhi government, its autonomous bodies, corporations and local bodies (municipal corporations).

The order came in the wake of doctors, nurses of Delhi government hospitals, and civil defence volunteers in the south-west district office testing positive for Covid-19.

While Nikhil Kumar, the CEO of Delhi Jal Board has been appointed as the nodal officer, he has been tasked with identifying two dedicated hospitals and one exclusive testing centre for Delhi government officers and their families.

“A staff welfare cell and a dedicated 24x7 helpline number under this cell will be opened for regular interaction with infected officers as well as their family members. The district magistrates have been asked to provide details of officers found Covid-19 positive in their districts daily to the state nodal welfare officer,” a senior government official said.

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