Weekend curfew: Roads empty, markets shut, CM Kejriwal asks people to adhere to restrictions

·4-min read

New Delhi, Apr 17 (PTI) Roads, markets, buses and metro trains were largely empty on Saturday as the national capital, grappling with soaring COVID-19 cases, observed weekend curfew, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealing to people to adhere to the restrictions.

The weekend 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. Apart from those who have been exempted, a majority of Delhiites appeared to have stayed home during the weekend curfew.

Only a few passengers were seen travelling on buses and metro trains in the city.

Major markets, including Sadar Bazar, Chandni Chowk, Connaught Place, Khari Baoli and Karol Bagh, and industrial areas like Bawana, Narela, Okhla, wore a deserted look during the day.

Brijesh Goel, chairman of the Chamber of Trade and Industry, said the traders followed the Delhi government's direction on the new restrictions completely.

'All the wholesale and retail markets and factories in the city were closed. The weekend curfew was 100 per cent successful. We had talked to our traders and sought their support to the move.

'Traders will also follow any other measure the government takes to check the spread of COVID-19,' Goel told PTI.

However, there was exception near facilities like the LNJP Hospital, GTB Hospital, AIIMS and ISBTs --- Kashmiri Gate, Anand Vihar and Sarai Kale Khan, where people were seen taking the public transport.

Those going to inter-sate bus terminals, airports and railway stations, have been exempted from the weekend curfew if they show valid tickets.

On Saturday, shops providing essential services, including pharmacies, grocery stores, food outlets and banks, remained open.

Food delivery service agents were also seen on the roads as the Delhi Disaster Management Authority has given permission to restaurants for home delivery services.

A senior transport department officer said buses ran almost empty as only those associated with essential services and having valid e-pass were allowed to board.

'Metro services are running smoothly and all those who are authorised to travel as per the exemptions from the DDMA, are being allowed,' a DMRC spokesperson said.

'The headway of 15 minutes being maintained in the main lines,' he said.

Shahdul (35), an auto-rickshaw driver looking for passengers at Green Park, said there are not many passengers on the roads from Saturday morning.

'Due to the curfew, there are not many passengers today. I have got two bookings since the morning,' he said.

Chandu Chaurasia, vice president of Capital Drivers Welfare Association, alleged that police stopped last mile connectivity vehicles like 'gramin sewa' and 'phatphat sewa' vehicles at many areas although there was no order to not allow such vehicles during the weekend curfew.

The Delhi Police set up checkpoints at various points 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.

'The movement of essential goods and services is being facilitated. We have placed banners on pickets and outside the gates of the colonies to tell people about the curfew and asked them not to come outside their houses unnecessarily.

'We are also monitoring the COVID helpline and assisting people who are facing difficulty in getting movement pass,' Biswal said.

On Friday, police had warned people venturing out of homes without valid reasons during the weekend curfew would face arrest and prosecution for violating anti-COVID regulations.

Delhi recorded its highest-ever one-day COVID-19 figures on Friday when 19,486 cases and 141 deaths were reported, prompting Chief Minister Kejriwal to order setting up more coronavirus facilities and increase the strength of oxygen beds.

The e-passes issued for already imposed night curfew will be applicable during the weekend curfew as well, the government has said.

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 VIT NIT KND BUN BUN TDS TDS