New Delhi, Apr 18 (PTI) The busiest of roads and markets remained eerily quiet and empty on Sunday as the national capital, burdened by the heavy load of unprecedented number of COVID-19 cases, observed the second day of weekend curfew.
The curfew, aimed at breaking the chain of spiralling coronavirus infections, was clamped at 10 pm on Friday and will continue till 5 am on Monday.
Major markets, including Sadar Bazar, Chandni Chowk, Connaught Place, Khari Baoli and Karol Bagh remained closed for business through the day.
In a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus, Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal announced to keep the shutters down till April 25.
'We will again review on April 25, 2021 and take further decision after assessing the condition. The most alarming aspect is the galloping positivity rate and shortages of hospital beds, oxygen,ventilators and medicines and other medical facilities in use of the epidemic,' it said in a statement.
All the public places in Delhi, which are usually the gathering grounds for Delhiites on weekends, remained closed for visitors, including the Red Fort, India Gate, Delhi zoo, Lodhi garden and Nehru park.
Among the places that remained busy throughout the weekend curfew were the city hospitals and cremation grounds as scores of ambulances and other vehicles ferrying patients rushed in and out.
The national capital reported 25,462 COVID-19 cases on Sunday, the highest single-day spike in the city till date, according to data shared by the Health Department.
The city also reported 161 deaths, while the positivity rate shot up to 29.74 per cent, also the highest so far.
Mohd Shamim Ansari, a PR professional from Okhla, said that the curfew made it a little difficult for him to move his house.
'Recently I got married in Mumbai and I am back to Delhi. So before the weekend curfew I thought I can use my weekend to shift in my new house but unfortunately the curfew made it a little hard,' Ansari said.
While he is avoiding going out and has been relying on online grocery delivery services, he will move the house over the week.
'Since my new house is nearby. We will be using weekdays to shift now. So after completing my office work and breaking my fast, I will use that time for shifting things,' he added.
Considering the increasing cases and a struggling health infrastructure, the Delhi government also issued guidelines on Sunday for gated residential complexes to set up COVID facilities.
It said the COVID care facility would be set up using the resources of RWAs/residential societies/NGOs and there would be a dedicated health facility for management of suspected, asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic or very mild cases residing in that particular residential facility.
Lokesh Chugh, national secretary NSUI, said that instead of a lockdown, the government should strengthen the health facilities in the city and make strict guidelines for weekly markets.
'The economy of Delhi is weak from past lockdown effects and is in critical stage still. I believe a lockdown is not the solution to COVID as its aftereffects will also leads to many deaths. We believe the government must check the availability of basic health facilities with medicines. Also the government should continue with strict decision for weekly markets and those areas where footfall is more and prone to infection,' Chugh told PTI.
The Delhi Police set up checkpoints at various locations to ensure movement of only those who have been exempted by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA).
Chinmoy Biswal, Delhi Police PRO, said all the district deputy commissioners of police were on the ground to ensure the implementation of weekend curfew.
Since 8 pm on Saturday till 5 pm on Sunday, the Delhi Police registered 569 FIRs and arrested 323 people for violating the weekend curfew.
It also issued a total of 2,369 challans for violating the COVID-19 norms during 8 pm on Saturday till 5 pm on Sunday.
Earlier this week, Kejriwal had announced the curfew this weekend only and the closure of malls, gymnasiums and auditoriums till April 30 as part of sweeping restrictions to break the chain of the COVID-19 infection in the city.
The weekend curfew would be effective from 10 pm on April 16 (Friday) to 5 am on April 19. Cinema halls would function with only 30 per cent capacity.
However, officials said a decision to extend the weekend curfew will be taken after reviewing the COVID-19 situation next week.
In its order, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) had on Thursday said during the weekend curfew, the movement of people for wedding-related (up to 50 people) and funeral-related (up to 20 people) gatherings would be allowed.
However, those going for vaccination will be required to apply for a curfew pass. Mediapersons have been exempted from the weekend curfew. PTI MAH AAR