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'Odd-even' markets, revised zoning norms in Delhi's lockdown 4.0 plan

Odd-even markets, revised zoning norms in Delhis lockdown 4.0 plan

The Delhi government's submission to the central government on the fourth phase of the lockdown starting May 18 wants restrictions to apply only to so-called containment zones and not entire districts which are labelled red zones by the union health ministry and will also contain protocols for the staggered opening of markets and malls, more construction and industrial activities, and the resumption of public transport including the metro , according to senior officials in the chief minister's office.

The submission was finalised during a meeting of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lietenant Governor Anil Baijal.

In the proposal to the Centre, which was being prepared late into the evening of Thursday, the Delhi government will suggest that alternate shops in markets be opened every day and that one-third of the stores in malls be allowed to operate. It will also suggest doing away with the curfew between 7pm and 7am when the movement of people is curtailed. And it will recommend a heavy fine on those not wearing masks in public.

The L-G, in Thursday's meeting, directed the government to draft standard operating procedures (SoP) for the reopening of markets and malls in a staggered fashion, resuming public transport, and reviving construction activities, said a senior government official. The SoPs are likely to be released by Sunday.

At the core of the suggestions, sought by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from chief ministers during their fifth meeting since late March on the Covid-19 pandemic and ways to fight it, will be the focus on containment zones. Currently, the health ministry defines districts as red, orange and green zones and there are significant restrictions on the red ones, the most affected areas in terms of number of cases, or the most at risk. That effectively classifies all of Delhi as a red zone, which means most activities will not be allowed in the caital. Kejriwal, on Monday, during the meeting with Modi, asked that only the containment zones, not all the 11 revenue districts of the city, be classified "red zones".

Delhi government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said that a final order on the next phase of the lockdown will be issued only after the Central government comes up with its guidelines for all states and union territories. Delhi chief secretary Vijay Dev said: "Implementation of restrictions and relaxations will have to strictly adhere to the guidelines issued by the central government."

Delhi has at least 75 containment zones where even stand-alone shops and industries can't operate, people can't move around even in private vehicles, and electricians and plumbers are not allowed. These activities are allowed in the rest of the city -- even though it is a red zone.

The number of coronavirus disease cases in Delhi rose to 8,470 on Thursday, with the addition of 472 cases. The capital has thus far seen 3,045 recoveries and 115 deaths. In a meeting of the Delhi disaster management authority chaired by the L-G in the evening, officials stated that Delhi's doubling rate was more than 12 days now, recovery rate 32.88%, and the fatality rate, 1.13%.

Earlier in the day, Kejriwal, in a digital media address, said his government received over five lakh responses in a span of over 24 hours after he asked for suggestions on what relaxations should be given in the fourth phase of the lockdown.

"In only 24 hours, we received more than 5 lakh responses, including around 4,75,000 messages on WhatsApp, 10,700 e-mails, and 49,000 calls. Maximum people have suggested that educational institutions should remain closed until the end of the summer break. Most have also recommended that hotels, barber shops or salons, cinema halls, swimming pools, and other such places which involve a number of people being in close proximity must also not open for now. However, restaurants, they said, must open for take-aways, although they should not have any dine-in arrangements," Kejriwal said in the media address.

The CM said every suggestion that he reviewed stated that senior citizens and people with other serious ailments, such as heart problems, asthma, diabetes, and cancer should stay indoors, as should children below the age of 10 and pregnant women.

"Everyone has suggested that proper social distancing must be ensured, and strict fines must be imposed on those not wearing masks. People have suggested the opening of parks. No activities in the containment zones will be allowed," the chief minister said.

The proposal includes the resumption of transport services, including auto-rickshaws and taxis, with only one passenger allowed in autos and two passengers in taxis .

"Delhi government wants bus services and Metro to resume because not every person owns a private vehicle to get to their offices, which were opened during lockdown 3.0. But, it will also be with strict social distancing norms in place and not more than 25 people will be allowed per bus. Limited metro services can start," said an official in the CM's office who asked not to be named.

Jugal Kishore, head of community medicines department in Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital said, "The purpose of the lockdown was clearly to flatten the curve. To think that the infections will stop with an indefinite lockdown is wrong. So, a phased relaxation of the lockdown is necessary now."

"What we need now is more cooperation from people when it comes to adhering to social distancing and isolation norms. People should follow rules. Looking at the intensity of infections, it can be said that things are under control at this juncture. But, it is also important to mention, the government should prioritise strengthening the health infrastructure and focus on quality of health care, when it attempts to revive economy," Kishore added.

(Inputs and image from hindustantimes.com)

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