Delhi is prepared to ensure supply of essential goods to its residents during the 21-day "total lockdown" ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the country, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said today. He also urged people, once again, to respect the lockdown and stay inside their homes during this period.
"During this 21-day lockdown, we will do our best to make sure nobody goes hungry. This is a difficult time. We are not saying there will not be problems, but we will do our best to make sure everyone is looked after," the Chief Minister said, stressing, "There will be no shortage of essential goods".
Addressing the media this afternoon, after meeting Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Mr Kejriwal also said that people providing essential services - such as those in health care and journalism - would not be stopped from carrying out their duties so long as they carried identity cards with them.
Others, such as shopkeepers selling vegetables and groceries, have been asked to contact the government to get an e-pass that will allow them to function during the lockdown in Delhi.
Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has made several other arrangements. These include Rs 5,000 to all construction workers (building work has been halted for the duration of the lockdown) and doubling of pensions for widows and elderly and specially-abled citizens.
Arrangements made by Delhi Govt.— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) March 25, 2020
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Last week Mr Kejriwal also announced free rations to 72 lakh people whose jobs and livelihoods may have been affected by the lockdown.
However, there is still a measure of panic buying of essential goods in the city, with several shops running out of basic items like milk, bread and vegetables.
India went under a 21-day "total lockdown", starting Tuesday midnight, to stop the spread of the contagious COVID-19 virus, which has infected nearly 600 and killed at least 10 people. In Delhi there are 31 active cases, including a foreign national, and one death has been linked to the virus.
Under the lockdown, and curfew imposed in several states, people have been prohibited from leaving their homes, except in an emergency, to minimise contact and stop the COVID-19 virus that spreads via droplets of bodily fluid when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Only shops selling essential goods and services - groceries, vegetables and medicines - have been allowed to remain open, with some shops in Gujarat and Puducherry practicing innovative measures to ensure social distancing.
Delhi, like other states, closed schools, colleges, shopping malls and cinemas several days ago, and went under a full lockdown of its own this week.
During this period Delhi Metro services will be shut and public buses will run only on selected routes. The borders of the national capital territory (NCT) have been shut to all road traffic; this includes app-based taxi services like Ola and Uber.
Delhi airport has also been shut, with all flight traffic in the country grounded as well.
"Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures," Mr Kejriwal said on Sunday.
Worldwide the virus, which originated in China's Wuhan district in December last year, has killed over 16,300 people and infected over 3.75 lakh others.