In letter to PM, Kejriwal suggests opening malls, public transport
While coronavirus hotspots must remain under strict restrictions, relaxations must be given to non-containment areas, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday. The Centre is expected to announce this weekend the contours of the third extension of lockdown, which was first imposed on March 25. PM Modi sought suggestions from CMs by May 15.
Economic activities across Delhi have been shut due to the pandemic and re-starting them has become crucial for revenue. "We believe the relaxations will lead to a rise in COVID-19 infections, but we are prepared for it by making adequate arrangements for hospitals, ventilators, oxygen requirements, ambulances," Kejriwal said, assuring that Delhi will work with the union government in the "fight ahead".
A major relaxation that Kejriwal wants is related to public transport. He said metros must only allow government employees during morning and evening hours. Moreover, he suggested those involved in essential services or having an e-pass shall be allowed to board the trains only between 10.30 am and 5.30 pm. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation should leave a vacant seat in between, the letter added.
DMRC is working out a detailed cleaning maintenance procedure in view of the pandemic. The exercise will be extremely exhaustive as it involves 264 stations over 2200 coaches and over 1100 escalators and 1000 lifts. Protocol for social distancing etc. are also being worked on. pic.twitter.com/Yky1raKR4P— Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (@OfficialDMRC) May 13, 2020
Kejriwal suggested auto-rickshaws, buses, and cabs (including those run by Ola and Uber), must be allowed to operate with limitations. He said autos and rickshaws can have only one passenger and taxis/cabs only two, along with the driver. Buses shouldn't carry more than 20.
About markets, Kejriwal said they should be allowed to open on an odd-even basis, meaning some shops can function on one day, others on another. This is among the over 500,000 suggestions that the Delhi government received on relaxations. He suggested malls should function, but only 33% of shops must remain open on any given day. The onus of enforcement would be on mall authorities.
"However, shops selling essential goods, books and stationery shops and fans shops are permitted to open on all days," the letter said. An official told HT that shops selling ACs, coolers, and fans would be included in essential ones, considering Delhi's unforgiving summers have arrived.
As far as offices are concerned, private ones should be allowed to function with 50% of staff. Work from home can continue for able offices, he suggested. All employees should download the Aarogya Setu app, added Kejriwal, taking a clear stand on the issue which has raised security concerns. Kejriwal didn't favor the opening of schools, salons/spas/barber shops, cinema halls, hotels, restaurants, and cafes.
Kejriwal sent the letter to PM Modi after meeting Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on Thursday. He had asked the Delhi government to start preparing standard operating procedures (SOP) on opening transport, making malls/markets functional, and re-starting industrial activities. Market associations said they will adhere by safety guidelines once shops open, but pleaded to re-start services as businesses have suffered a lot.
"We have decided to keep only two entry points for customers, where there will be hand sanitizers and temperature screening. We will also put up boards saying only those who want to buy should enter," said Ashok Randhawa, president of Sarojini Nagar mini-market traders association.
At a time when Delhi's coffer dried up, liquor stores provided a bailout. Despite levying a corona fee of 70%, the sales didn't see a dip. Within ten days of shops opening, the excise department registered MRP sales of more than Rs. 100 crore of liquor, reports TOI. Rs. 65 crore was earned as corona fee and almost the same amount as excise duty.