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Night curfew in Delhi: As Covid numbers rise, so do the excuses

Night curfew in Delhi: As Covid numbers rise, so do the excuses
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New Delhi: "Corona is over and there is no need to wear a mask," a man told police officials who stopped him for not wearing a mask two days before the night curfew was imposed in the Capital.

From residents claiming the pandemic is over to those who said they were having trouble breathing and those that simply insisted on not wearing a mask, the Delhi Police encountered a variety of people who ended up breaking curfew on Tuesday night — the first night of curfew.

As per Delhi Police data on action taken between 10 pm on April 6 to 5 am on April 7, about 220 cases were registered for violating COVID 19 guidelines, 534 preventive actions (under sections 65 DP Act, 107,151Cr.P.C) were taken and 842 challans were done for not wearing masks.

"We dealt with all kinds of people and they came up with various kinds of excuses," the official said.

Another official added that some of the violators told them that they can't breathe after wearing masks, some directly told them to arrest as they can't pay the fine.

"Many of them told us that they did not know about the night curfew," the official added as another official said many people who were caught without a mask were going back to their homes after meeting friends and family.

This comes at a time when the Capital is reporting fresh highs of daily new Covid-19 cases and vaccination numbers are struggling to pick up the pace. Health Minister Satyendar Jain said that the night curfew was imposed because parties and social gatherings were being organised in various parts of the city at a time when COVID-19 cases have surged.

Interacting with reporters, he also feared that if the positivity rate escalated and safety norms were not followed by people, the new cases could breach the last single-day spike record registered in November last year.

It is "not a harsh step" and there are various categories of exemption, he said, adding that restaurants in the city usually operate till 11 pm, so in view of public safety, they have to close only one hour early. Asked about the efficacy of night curfew in curbing cases, he said, "Let's wait and watch".

However, Delhi Police found that residents seemed unafraid with some violators even lying about being out and about to visit hospitals for treatment purposes. "When we asked them to show papers, they did not have anything and they were challaned," one official said. Cops also found others who were just out for a nightly walk.

Delhi Police Public Relation Officer (PRO) Chinmoy Biswal said Delhi Police will strictly enforce it except for the exempted categories mentioned in the order. "All concerned should strictly observe the restrictions as given in the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) order,"

he said.

As per Delhi Police data, on April 7 (till 4 pm), 1,531 challans were issued for mask violation. So far 5,45,393 challans were issued to date for mask violation. 3,504 challans were issued for spitting to date, 38,789- challans for social distancing violation.

Moreover, amid reports of glitches in the government website, the Delhi government received over 73,000 applications for e-passes to skip the night curfew, of which only 1,271 were approved. After the imposition of the night curfew on Tuesday, a total of 73,154 applications were received for e-passes. Of these, 34,759 were rejected and 30,940 were pending by Wednesday noon, official figures showed.

On e-passes procurement issues faced by people, the minister said, it is a "teething problem" and should be sorted soon.

But Health Minister Jain also added that it would be too early to speculate on how

fast the cases could increase and that his government is

focusing on preparing the required infrastructure to fight the fresh surge.

Asked about an IPL match due to be held in Delhi on April 29, he said, "The matter has been taken into cognisance".

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