A decision on night curfew in Delhi has to be taken immediately and implemented without delay, the High Court told the Arvind Kejriwal government today amid a huge coronavirus surge which the city has not been able to shake off in a month. A status report has to be submitted by December 3, the court added after listening to the government, which said a decision on the matter is under "active consideration".
"It is now for the Delhi government to take a call on whether night curfew is required to be imposed in Delhi or some parts of Delhi and/or other measures need to be adopted to contain the virus," the court said.
"The Delhi government shall take a decision on this aspect and implement the same without losing further time," added the court, which has taken up the matter earlier this month as the daily surge crossed the 8,000-mark. Over the last week, the spike in daily cases had mostly stayed above 6,000.
The court said it was in agreement with the petitioner regarding the high number of deaths over the recent months. While 6,562 lives were lost in Delhi due to Covid upto 01.11.2020, an average of 800 deaths, "in the month of November that has still a few days left, the death rate has crossed 2,000, which itself is alarming," the court said.
"Even if the mortality rate in Delhi due to the infection is lower than some other cities in India, that can hardly be a solace to those who have lost a near and dear one," the court said.
Asked if it was planning to impose night curfews or weekend curfews, similar to other cities in the country that are undergoing a similar surge, the Delhi government had said, "There is no decision yet on imposing any kind of curfew, but it is under active consideration depending on the COVID-19 infection".
Yesterday, the Union home ministry issued fresh guidelines for states to contain the contagion, especially within containment zones, starting December 1. The suggested measures included stricter enforcement of containment zones, staggered offices timings where the weekly positivity rate is more than 10 per cent, "Covid-appropriate behaviour" and "night curfew after assessing local conditions".
The final decision, however, has been left to the states, many of which have been witnessing a fresh upswing in numbers.
Of these, Delhi has been contributing the highest in terms of daily numbers. The surge in the national capital had started at the end of October and reached record highs this month. On November 11, the city saw 8,593 new cases, an all-time high. Data this morning showed that over the last 24 hours, the city has logged 5,246 fresh infections and 99 deaths.
The city has been under the scanner of the High Court ever since the surge began.
On November 11, the court pulled up the government for relaxing safety norms for public gatherings and transport,
Last week, the court questioned why the government had not taken action at the outset when the numbers started climbing.
"Why did we have to shake you out of your slumber on November 11? What did you do from November 1 till November 11... You saw from November 1 which way the wind was blowing. But you turn turtle now because we asked you some questions," the court said.
Citing the coronavirus situation, Delhi has refused permission for a rally of farmers protesting against the Centre's new farm laws. The hearing took place as farmers are engaged in tussle with the Haryana police to reach the city.