- Those with approved e-passes will be allowed to cross
- "We will take a decision again in one week," Arvind Kejriwal said
- He has sought feedback of citizens on whether to open the borders
Delhi has sealed its borders for a week amid a worrying surge in COVID-19 cases, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Monday afternoon, adding that only those people providing essential services and holding government-approved e-passes will be allowed to cross. Government employees holding valid ID cards will also be allowed to cross.
Mr Kejriwal explained that the borders were being shut temporarily to allow hospitals and medical institutions in the city time to get a handle on the increase in coronavirus cases. He also stressed that while the spike in numbers was disturbing, it should not lead to panic.
"Delhi borders are to be sealed for the next week. Essential services are exempted. We will take a decision again in one week to open borders after seeking suggestions from citizens," he said.
Mr Kejriwal said these suggestions could be sent via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), WhatsApp (8800007722) or by dialling 1031 till 5 pm Friday.
"The moment we open the borders, people from across the country will come to Delhi for treatment. Delhi hospitals should be reserved for the people of Delhi," Mr Kejriwal added in his brief address to the city.
The national capital has nearly 20,000 coronavirus cases so far, with 473 deaths linked to the virus.
On Sunday evening more than 1,000 new infections were detected in the preceding 24 hours; this was the fourth consecutive time that the number of new cases crossed the 1,000-mark in 24 hours.
According to the Chief Minister, Delhi has 9,500 beds for COVID-19 patients, up from 4,500 and then 6,600 as the city-state scales up health and hospital infrastructure to contain and quell the virus outbreak.
"I can guarantee, as your Chief Minister, there will be a bed if you or someone in your family is infected," Mr Kejriwal said; his comments echoed those he made on Saturday, when he said, "We are making plenty of arrangements that are much more than the requirements".
The AAP chief has repeatedly warned Delhi it will have to learn to live with the novel coronavirus for now.
In his briefing he also said barbershops and salons would be allowed to re-open (spas will remain closed) and all shops can function every day; previously they were allowed to open on an odd-even basis.
The order to shut borders comes hours after Haryana opened Gurgaon-Delhi borders in line with revised lockdown guidelines issued by the centre, which said non-essential inter-state movement of vehicles would now be allowed without e-passes or special permits.
Confusion over this issue led to massive traffic jams at the Delhi-Gurgaon border between the two cities this morning, with frustrated commuters pointing out that despite the Haryana government order they were still being asked to show e-passes.
Uttar Pradesh's Noida, which also shares a border with Delhi, had sealed all routes in April in an attempt to stop the COVID-19 virus from spreading.
On Sunday the Noida district administration confirmed the border would remain closed till further notice, stating that 42 per cent of cases in the area had been tracked back to Delhi.
India is the seventh most-affected country with over 1.9 lakh cases; there were 8,392 new cases in 24 hours, Health Ministry data showed this morning.