NEW DELHI: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday announced a curfew this coming weekend and the closure of malls, gymnasiums and auditoriums till April 30 as part of sweeping restrictions to break the chain of the COVID-19 infection in the city. According to an official order, the weekend curfew will be effective from 10 pm on April 16 (Friday) to 5 am on April 19 (Monday), even as gymnasiums, auditoriums, malls, spas, entertainment parks and assembly halls will remain closed in the national capital till April 30.
Cinema halls will function with only 30 per cent capacity. However, officials said a decision to extend the weekend curfew will be taken after reviewing the COVID-19 situation next week. There will be no in-house dining in restaurants, the chief minister said at an online press conference a day after the city recorded the biggest single-day jump of 17,282 COVID-19 cases.
However, the restaurants will be allowed to operate home-delivery and take-away services, he said, adding that bars will be remain closed till April 30. The chief minister made these announcements after he met Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal. He said the essential services and weddings will not be affected by the weekend curfew and passes will be provided to those attending weddings.
In its order, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) said during the weekend curfew, the movement of people for wedding-related (up to 50 people) and funeral-related (up to 20 people) gatherings will be allowed. People going to airports, railway stations and lSBTs will be allowed to proceed on the production of valid tickets.
However, those going for vaccination will be required to apply for a curfew pass. Media persons have been exempted from the weekend curfew. People dealing in food, groceries, fruits, vegetables and dairy products will also have to seek a curfew pass for their movement.
CM Kejriwal said the reason behind the weekend curfew was that on these days, people often indulged in recreation and other such activities that could be "curtailed" and "curbed" without much inconvenience to them. "Therefore, the weekend curfew is being imposed to break the chain (of COVID-19) and prevent contact among people.
"But we will not allow any inconvenience to those involved in essential services like going to hospitals, railway stations or airports and also weddings. We will issue passes for their movement quickly and without harassment," he said.
The DDMA said public transport such as the metro, buses, autorickshaws and taxis will be allowed to function within the stipulated time for the transportation of only those who have been exempted from the weekend curfew. The government has already imposed a night curfew in the city from 10 pm to 5 am till April 30 in a bid to check the spread of the coronavirus.
Mr Kejriwal also said there is no shortage of hospital beds in Delhi and over 5,000 are still available for COVID patients. Efforts to increase the number of beds on a large scale will be made, he said and appealed to people not to "insist" on beds in particular hospitals.
Only one weekly market in a zone will be allowed to open per day and steps will be taken to control the crowds in those, Mr Kejriwal said. The government scaled down the occupancy of restaurants and cinema halls to 50 per cent of their seating capacity last week in view of the rising number of COVID-19 cases. Kejriwal said the number of cases is rising every day in Delhi and the restrictions were needed to check the spread of the virus.
The government will also ensure a strict enforcement of COVID-appropriate behaviour such as wearing masks, he said, noting that many people are still not following it.
The chief minister said he expects the support of people in implementing the restrictions, adding that the government will tide over the fourth wave of COVID-19 with the help of the citizens as it did earlier....