The Delhi government on Thursday submitted a proposal to the Centre on lockdown relaxations post-May 17 and suggested the opening of markets, shopping complexes and operation of buses and metro services with strict social distancing norms. The government has suggested operation of construction activities in the national capital and that movement of labourers within Delhi be allowed, sources in the government told PTI.
Taxis with two passengers will be allowed, they said, adding that in buses, 20 passengers are likely to be allowed to travel under strict social distancing norms. "The government has suggested that opening of markets, complexes and malls should be allowed in Delhi. However, shops engaged in non-essential items in shopping complexes and malls should be allowed to operate on an odd-even basis," a source said.
In the next two-three days, the government will come out with a standard operating procedure to allow economic activities from Monday in the national capital. The nationwide lockdown was imposed from March 25 to April 14, then extended to May 3 and again to May 17 to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said that different economic activities will be allowed in the city from May 18 based on decisions taken by the Centre on lockdown relaxation.
Addressing an online media briefing, he said most people suggested that schools, colleges, barbershops, spa, salons, cinema halls and swimming pools should not be opened post-May 17, and there should be just limited operation of metro services. On Tuesday, Mr Kejriwal had sought suggestions from Delhiites on lockdown relaxations post-May 17 and asked them to send their views by 5 pm on Wednesday.
During a video conference chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with chief ministers of different states on Monday, Mr Kejriwal had said barring containment zones, economic activities should be allowed to resume in the national capital. Buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws should be allowed to operate in the city but with social-distancing, he said during the online briefing on Thursday.
"The country, including Delhi, has been closed for the last one and a half months due to coronavirus-induced lockdown. It was easy to close, but we have to work very hard to open up the economy. We usually do hard work. The coming times are very difficult," Mr Kejriwal said.
The chief minister said the government had received over 5 lakh suggestions from Delhiites on lockdown relaxations post-May 17 and most of them suggested strict action against those not wearing masks and violating social-distancing norms. "Different activities will be allowed in Delhi from Monday based on Centre's decisions on lockdown relaxation. But, it is sure that we have to follow social-distancing strictly," Mr Kejriwal said.
"We also got suggestions from market associations and most of them advocated the opening of markets on an odd-even basis. Some people said malls can open by allowing opening of one-third shops," he said. Some suggestions were in favour of closure of hotels, but most of them advocated the opening of restaurants through which home-delivery of food and takeaway facility can be allowed, he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently asked states to send their proposals on what they want post-May 17 when the third phase of lockdown ends, Arvind Kejriwal said. On Tuesday, Mr Kejriwal had made it clear that the lockdown cannot be lifted completely given that the city was recording a high number of coronavirus cases daily.