NEW DELHI: With neither cure for COVID-19 nor an end to the pandemic expected anytime soon, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal went ahead to implement his ‘live with the coronavirus’ policy as his government permitted a host of activities in the national capital even as the lockdown was extended till May 31.
Around 3,400 DTC buses will be back on Delhi roads from Tuesday as all public transport — barring Delhi Metro — and private vehicles have been allowed to ply, although there will be a restriction on the number of passengers they can take at a time. A Delhi government official said 50 percent auto-rickshaw will also return on the road from Tuesday.
The drivers will be responsible for disinfecting vehicles after each ride. The transport department will make sure social distancing norms are enforced at the bus stops and inside the buses. Carpooling will not be allowed.
All private offices have been allowed to function with full strength. To ensure safety at offices and workplaces, employers on ‘best efforts basis’, should ensure the Aarogya Setu app is installed by the staff, said an order issued by the Delhi government.
Shopping malls will remain closed but markets will be allowed to open on the odd-even basis with staggered timings. Restaurants are allowed to home-deliver, but there will be no dine-in facility.
Stepping out of homes between 7 pm and 7 am will remain prohibited, except for essential services. Those below 10 years of age and above 65, pregnant women, and people who have other health conditions must stay in. Wearing a mask is mandatory, as per the new guidelines. Construction activities can commence but no workers from outside will be allowed.
The government also directed RWAs to not prevent anyone allowed by authorities from performing the duty. Industrial establishments in the city will be permitted to function in staggered business hours. “Industrial firms whose registered name starts with A to L may function from 7.30 am to 5.30 pm while other firms whose name starts with M to Z may function from 8.30 am to 6.30 pm in Delhi,” said the order issued by Chief Secretary Vijay Dev.
Inter-state movement of DTC, as well as cluster buses, shall be permitted with the condition that no more than 20 passengers shall be allowed. Before boarding, each passenger will undergo thermal screening. Delhi government will also request neighboring states to de-seal their borders so that those working in the national capital and staying in satellite cities can come to their workplaces.
“There seems to be no cure for the coronavirus even in the next two-three months. How long will we continue with the lockdown? We will work with the people of Delhi in implementing strict social distancing norms. We all will ensure the physical health of citizens and the economic health of the capital. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to be safe and ensure social distancing norms,” The CM said earlier. The government’s zeal to open various services is not shared by all, however.
“CM’s announcement that private offices can open with full strength is a feel-good factor for the city that is seeing a surge of Covid-19 cases daily. However, one cannot ignore the recent statements from medical experts that the peak season in Delhi is likely to come in June-July. So, at this point in time, I believe it is important to save lives and have a cautious approach with just 30 percent company staff being allowed to work from the office,” said Ashwajit Singh, Managing Director, IPE Global, an international development consulting firm.