Delhi wants to hit pause on MHA order to reopen shops, caught in a bind
The situation will be reviewed by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority’s top committee before extending the lockdown relaxation to Delhi.Updated: Apr 25, 2020 12:24 IST
The Delhi government has decided to ask the Centre to clarify the kind of shops that can be allowed to open amid the ongoing national lockdown. The clarification will be raised by Chief Secretary Vijay Dev at a video conference convened by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba that started a short while earlier.
“We are going to seek clarifications from the central government on the order,” the person mentioned above said on condition of anonymity. For one, the kind of shops that the Home Ministry wants to reopen.
Left to itself, the city government was reluctant to allow shops apart from those selling essential commodities to reopen at this point given the high number of Covid-19 cases in the national capital.
Delhi has reported a total of 2,514 Covid-19 patients till last night, 128 of them within the previous 24 hours. “We need to get a grip on the situation first rather than fritter away the gains made,” the functionary said.
But the home ministry’s midnight order caught them off-guard.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lt Governor Anil Baijal also discussed the government’s next steps on home ministry order.
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The consensus was that people have gone ahead to open their shops after accessing the home ministry order on the Internet and it was going to be impossible to get them to go home.
One Delhi government official upset at the home ministry’s surprise move summarised the city administration dilemma, saying they couldn’t send the police after shopkeepers shut the shops again.
“I think the Centre should have consulted the states… at least given them a heads-up before putting out the orders,” he said.
In a late night order on Friday, Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla had allowed neighbourhood shops, standalone shops and shops in residential complexes to open on the condition that they operate with half the strength and enforce social distancing norms.
Bhalla issued the order in his capacity as chairperson of the National Executive Committee of the National Disaster Management Authority.
For the central orders to be implemented, each state authority has to issue a separate set of orders to departments under its charge such as the police and health departments.
On 19 April, the Delhi state executive committee led by chief secretary Vijay Dev had frozen the lockdown 2.0 ground rules and “decided against any relaxation for additional activities till another comprehensive assessment on April 27 is carried out.