COVID: CM announces weekend curfew in Delhi; malls, gyms, spas to be closed

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New Delhi, Apr 15 (PTI) Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday announced sweeping restrictions, including a weekend curfew and the closure of malls, gymnasiums, spas and auditoriums, in a bid to break the chain of the COVID-19 infection in the national capital.

He also said there is no shortage of hospital beds in Delhi and over 5,000 are still available for COVID patients.

There will be no in-house dining in restaurants and cinema halls will be allowed to operate with only 30 per cent capacity, 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.

Kejriwal said the essential services and weddings will not be affected by the weekend curfew and passes will be provided to those attending weddings.

Those going to hospitals, railway stations and airports will also be issued curfew passes, he added.

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 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.

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.

Restaurants will be allowed to do home delivery, Kejriwal announced, adding that 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.

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.

Delhi recorded the biggest single-day jump in its COVID-19 tally on Wednesday with 17,282 new cases, while 104 more people died due to the disease.

Amid a massive surge in cases, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in the national capital issued an order on Wednesday to ramp up the number of beds reserved for COVID patients at its hospitals and attach banquet halls and hotels to these facilities.

The move will add 3,269 beds in the COVID facilities in Delhi.

With a sharp rise in the number of deaths due to the latest surge in COVID-19 cases, crematoriums and burial grounds in the city are struggling to manage their resources.

According to the official figures on confirmed and suspected cases, the virus has killed 513 people in Delhi in the first 14 days of April, while it claimed 117 lives in March and 57 in February.

This substantial rise in the fatality rate has led to a rush of bodies at the city's crematoriums and burial grounds. PTI VIT BUN RC