Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced that salons, barber shops and all markets will reopen in Delhi as the country enters ‘Unlock 1’ to gradually reduce restrictions imposed due to coronavirus.
Addressing the media, Kejriwal said the Capital’s borders would be sealed till June 8 to deter a possible spike in Covid-19 cases in the region. However, the Delhi CM sought suggestions from the people regarding reopening the borders with other states post June 8.
The move comes after the Capital's neighbours --- Noida, Ghaziabad and Gurugram --- shut their borders to prevent infection from Delhi.
To decide on whether borders should be opened, Kejriwal has sought suggestions from people through WhatsApp or email till 5 pm on Friday, saying he also needed suggestions and guidance on whether Delhi government hospitals should be reserved for the residents of Delhi.
Addressing the media, Kejriwal said until now his government could do so much work in Delhi because of the support of the people and their trust, saying the guidance of the people helped him implement many important decisions in the city. For the time being, he said, the Delhi government is sealing the borders for one week.
"Essential services will remain functional and government officials can travel showing their identity cards. Based on the suggestions received from you, we will talk to the experts and decide on our future course of action on opening of borders," Kejriwal said.
"Covid-19 positive cases are rising in Delhi, which is a matter of worry but there is no need to panic. I say this because the AAP government has invested a lot in developing the healthcare infrastructure of Delhi in the last five years," he said.
Kejriwal said there has been holistic development of the health infrastructure in Delhi and assured that when the world is fighting to strengthen its healthcare systems against the Covid-19 pandemic, the Delhi government is ready to provide adequate health facilities and "a bed if you are ever infected by coronavirus".
Kejriwal said the decision to open Delhi borders can be a challenging one because of the large influx of people from across the country for medical treatment.
"People from all across the country come to Delhi for medical treatment because, first, Delhi's healthcare system is better than the healthcare system of any other state in the country. Secondly, the medical services in the government hospitals in Delhi are free. People can avail free of cost treatment in the government hospitals even if the treatment costs Rs 10 lakh," he said.
"As soon as we open the borders, people from across the country will come to Delhi for better treatment. We have a capacity of 9,500 beds for coronavirus treatment in Delhi hospitals as against 2,300 patients today, but all the beds will be occupied in just 2-3 days if we have an influx of patients from across the country. What should we do? Should Delhi borders be opened," he asked.
Along with lockdown relaxation measures, Kejriwal announced that the Delhi government will soon be launching an app to track COVID-19 cases and medical infrastructure.
The announcement comes on a day when Centre’s three-phase unlock plan that will restrict curbs to containment zones came into force.
Apart from the reopening salons and barber shops, Kejriwal lifted the odd-even scheme for shops and markets and said that industries can fully open during normal time.
“Our investment in healthcare has paid off. Our healthcare systems are being able to take on the COVID-19 caseloads. We will soon be launching an app to track coronavirus cases in Delhi and our medical infrastructure,” Kejriwal said.
Seeking for feedback on further measures that can be taken with regard to the closure of borders, the Delhi CM said, “I need your suggestion on whether we should keep our borders open. If we keep the borders open then people from across the country will come in for treatment and we will not have enough beds for them or for the people of Delhi.”
“Please let me know on WhatsApp or email by 5pm on Friday at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 1031,” Kejriwal said.
As the National Capital is battling the pandemic, confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 18,549 with a jump of 1,163 cases on Monday. Delhi has so far recorded 416 coronavirus deaths.