CM Arvind Kejriwal seeks Centre’s permission to shut markets

Deepavali shoppers flouting social distancing norms at Sarojini Nagar market in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: File photo

The Delhi government has sought permission from the Centre to temporarily shut down local markets emerging as COVID-19 hotspots and reduce gatherings at weddings to 50 from the current limit of 200 in view of the recent spurt in virus cases in the Capital.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday thanked the Centre for providing 750 additional ICU beds for the treatment of COVID-19 patients and appealed to people to wear masks and follow social distancing norms to protect themselves and their families.

The Opposition BJP, while welcoming the proposal to reduce gatherings, argued against shutting city markets. The Congress termed the move a “knee jerk reaction”.

“Following the Central government’s guidelines and considering the marriage season, the Delhi government earlier allowed 200 guests at marriage functions. Considering the recent spike in the number of coronavirus cases, the Delhi government has decided to withdraw this relaxation,” Mr. Kejriwal said.

Only 50 people will be allowed at marriage ceremonies now, the Chief Minister said, adding that a proposal to this effect has been sent to Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal for approval.

Blaming “massive crowds” at popular city markets before Deepavali for the “significant surge” in the number of COVID-19 cases in the Capital, Mr. Kejriwal said his government had sought permission to temporarily shut down such markets if the need arose.

“In the last order passed by the Central government, it was noted that permission to impose local lockdowns in the State should be taken from the Centre. In view of the recent situation and considering the last order of the Central government, we have requested the Centre to permit shutting down market places if necessary,” Mr. Kejriwal said.

“I do believe that such harsh measures would not be required. But, if any marketplace has become a coronavirus hotspot because of non-compliance of guidelines such as social distancing or wearing masks, we will have to impose a local shutdown there as a precautionary measure,” he said.

Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Legislative Assembly Ramvir Singh Bidhuri said the government should deploy personnel at city markets to ensure social distancing, provide masks and sanitisers instead of shutting them.

“If the government decides to close some markets there will be increased congestion in others and the possibility of infection there,” Mr. Bidhuri said.

Senior Congress leader Ajay Maken said, “If you shut one market in the city, people are not going to stop shopping. They will only move to the next market, which will then get crowded and become the next hotspot. The only way to ensure that markets do not become hotspots is to shut all markets and encourage people not to step out.”

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 5:57:23 AM |

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