CM, L-G meet today on curfew; traders to decide on shutdown
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, lieutenant governor Anil Baijal and chief secretary Vijay Dev are scheduled to meet on Monday to possibly discuss continuing restrictions, including the curfew, in the light of the unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases, which has led to a severe shortage of oxygen supply and left the health care infrastructure in the city overburdened, people aware of the matter said.
On Sunday, several trader groups pitched for voluntary closing of markets and resident groups demanded a short lockdown to arrest the surge in cases and break the chain of transmission.
“The lieutenant governor, chief minister and chief secretary are scheduled to meet on Monday afternoon. The agenda involves review of Covid-19 cases, status of health care infrastructure and hospital management, and restrictions, including the possibility of imposing a curfew in the city like the one that was implemented over the weekend,” said a senior official, who did not wish to be identified.
On Thursday, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) – chaired by Baijal – imposed a weekend curfew, temporarily shut shopping malls, gyms, spas and entertainment parks, capped the capacity of cinema halls and multiplexes at 30%, barred dining at restaurants, and limited weekly markets to one per day in a municipal zone.
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With no immediate decision being taken on extension of the weekend curfew, things will get beck to normal in Delhi on Monday morning, the senior official said, adding that what happens in the coming days will depend on what transpires in the meeting on Monday.
On Saturday, Kejriwal had said that he shall not refrain from implementing stricter restrictions if the Covid-19 situation does not come under control.
Dr Lalit Kant, former head of the division of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said, “Delhi needs strict restrictions at this juncture. No gatherings can be allowed in the light of the extreme rate of transmission of Covid-19. The situation is out of control and the health care system is inching towards a total collapse.”
With Delhi reporting 25,462 Covid-19 cases on Sunday, the market associations in the city said they were contemplating closing down the markets in a bid to “break the chain of transmission”.
While market associations of prominent Delhi markets such as Khan Market, Connaught Place, Sarojini Nagar, Lajpat Nagar, Karol Bagh have called a meeting on Monday to take a call on shutting markets, the traders’ association of Chandni Chowk market has appealed to all its traders to keep the market closed till April 25.
Sanjay Bhargava, president of Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar mandal, said, “We held a video conference meeting of all members and it was unanimously decided to keep the market close till April 25th. We have appealed to all traders to close the market. We will review the situation on April 25 and take further measures. The situation in the city is such that it is important to take such steps. The most alarming aspect is the galloping positivity rate and shortages of hospital beds, oxygen,ventilators and medicines and other medical facilities in use of the epidemic.”
Chemical merchant association, Delhi Kirana Committee and Khari Baoli traders have also decided to keep the market shut.
Traders association of Sarojini Nagar market held a virtual meeting, seeking the opinion of all traders on the way forward. Ashok Randhawa, president of Sarojini Nagar mini-market association said, “Close to 60% traders are of the view that the market should be closed. But a final decision will be taken by tomorrow.”
Traders said they have been worst affected since last year due to Covid’s impact on the economy. While they admit that a lockdown or extension of curfew for a few days is essential at this juncture, but added that the government should support businesses.
Atul Bhargava, president of New Delhi Traders Association (of Connaught Place), said, “It is the need of the hour. We have called a meeting tomorrow to discuss the issue, as the situation is very grim. But we want to say that the government should support traders, who have been at the receiving end due to the economic slowdown..”
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has written to Delhi L-G Anil Baijal, requesting a 15-day lockdown in the city. Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of CAIT, said, “A lockdown of at least 15 days should be imposed in Delhi with immediate effect. It is true that this will definitely affect business and economic activities of Delhi, but now life of the people has to be put first.”
The resident welfare associations, too, demanded a lockdown. Atul Goyal, president of URJA (a group of RWAs in Delhi), said, “The situation is grim and people are struggling to get their loved ones admitted to hospitals, for basic supply of medicines and oxygen, etc. The situation is worse than last year. A lockdown for 10-14 days is the only solution at the moment.”