Delhi Govt. to recommend Opening markets & malls on odd-even dates, allow Metro & Buses

The Delhi government is set to suggest to the Centre that post-May 17, markets, shopping complexes and malls should be allowed to open on odd-even basis for non-essential outlets and public transport services, including the Metro, buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws, should resume operations.

Earlier this week, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had sought suggestions from residents on easing restrictions. Addressing an online media briefing on Thursday, he said most were in favour of relaxing the curbs, making way for a gradual reopening of public transport, markets, restaurants and parks.

Later, during a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority chaired by Lt Governor Anil Baijal, Kejriwal conveyed his government’s position. Sources said the L-G will write to the Centre, giving details of the proposal.

“The top three suggestions are about the need to allow markets, shopping malls and shopping complexes to open. In these cases, non-essential shops are to be opened following the odd-even rule… On any given day, only 50 per cent shops will open,” said an official source.

“We have also suggested that the Metro, buses, cabs and auto-rickshaws be allowed to resume… Commuters will have to maintain social distancing, wear masks, and separate SOPs are being drafted for that. In-situ construction activities should be allowed only in cases where workers are located within the city and don’t have to be transported from outside,” said the source.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi said earlier that the Centre has sought suggestions from the states before deciding the contours of the next phase of the lockdown, Kejriwal is among the few chief ministers in favour of more relaxations.

Saying that his government received 4.75 lakh WhatsApp messages, 10,700 emails and 39,000 voice recordings between May 12 and May 13 on easing the curbs, Kejriwal said most wanted schools, colleges and educational institutes to remain closed.

“People said dining should not be allowed, but takeaway and home delivery should be allowed,” he said.

He said the general consensus was that barber shops, salons and spas should remain closed, as these services involve contact among people. Cinema halls and swimming pools also fall in this category, he said.

With regard to public transport, Kejriwal said people suggested that taxis and auto-rickshaws should be allowed to ply with only 1-2 passengers; buses should operate with 20-25 passengers; and the Metro should also be opened in a “limited way”. The transport department and Delhi Metro are already drafting the protocol for this.

Many people have urged the government to allow entry into parks for walking, exercising and performing yoga, he said, indicating that these restrictions may be eased.

He said most of the residents also opposed the rule barring outside movement from 7 pm and 7 am. However, he reiterated that the elderly, pregnant women and children should remain indoors.

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