Giving impetus to the Delhi "unlocking" plan, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today announced that markets and shopping malls in the city will be allowed to open on an odd-even basis, similar to the strategy employed to beat air pollution in the national capital, as the city finds its way out of the devastating second wave of coronavirus.
The standalone shops, however, will be allowed to open daily from 10am to 8 pm. Home delivery through e-commerce platforms has also been okayed.
The Delhi Metro too will begin its run again, but only at 50 per cent seating capacity.
Private offices, said the Chief Minister, can be opened with 50 per cent manpower with staggered work hours. The work-from-home mode should still be used widely, urged the Chief Minister.
For public sector offices, Category A employees can work on all days, but all categories under them should work at 50 per cent capacity, said the state government.
Gymnasiums, swimming pools, water parks, salons, educational and coaching institutes, cinema halls, theatres, weekly markets will remain shut.
"As and when the situation keeps improving, more relaxations will be announced. This is what is being done currently," said Mr Kejriwal.
The Chief Minister said the government is making provisions for children and is setting up a panel, as well as a task force to track the next wave of infections.
"We are preparing for third wave of COVID-19 keeping in mind that 37,000 cases may be reported at its peak," said Mr Kejriwal.
Detailing his plan, Mr Kejriwal said the government is setting up a 64 oxygen plants - the city faced an acute shortage of oxygen supplies in the last few weeks with several hospitals sending out SOS saying they were left with supplies to last a few hours.
He also said that the government will set up two genome tracking facilities so that they can actively track what strains of the virus are entering the capital city. This will help us a lot in understanding the virus and its variants better, said Mr Kejriwal.
The government is also setting up a panel of doctors who will provide advisory on whether a medicine is required for aiding the Covid treatment or not.
The city recorded 523 fresh COVID-19 cases and 50 fatalities on Friday, while the positivity rate - number of positive cases identified per 100 - stood at 0.68 per cent, according to the Delhi government data.
Last week, the government had allowed manufacturing and construction activities in Delhi beginning phased unlock process. The lockdown was imposed in Delhi on April 19.
Delhi is among the states to have been the worst hit by the devastating second Covid wave in the past few months. Big and small medical facilities of Delhi began to give up as basic resources like oxygen, beds, drugs, and vaccine ran out.
Court cases were fought over supplies to the city and the centre and other state governments became involved over diversion of stocks meant for the national capital.
Highlights of Arvind Kejriwal's unlock announcements for Delhi:
- Malls and shopping centres will open on an odd-even basis - half shops one day, the other half the next day.
- Essential item shops and chemists can open on all days. The odd-even rule does not apply to them.
- All private offices can open at a limit of 50 per cent employees only. However, we urge all those who can work from home to continue to do so.
- For public sector offices, Category A employees can work on all days, but all categories under them can only work to 50 per cent capacity. This needs to be followed strictly.
- Delhi metro will also run at a 50% capacity.
- As and when the situation keeps improving, more relaxations will be announced. This is what is being done currently.
- As for the third wave, we are preparing well to ensure that we are not caught unawares if and when there is a third wave. We are also making provisions for children and are setting up a panel for it as well as a task force to track a possible third wave.
- We faced a severe shortage of oxygen and hence we in the Delhi government are increasing the oxygen infrastructure in the national capital. We are also procuring oxygen tankers since we did not have any of our own earlier. We are buying 25 such tankers.