Lieutenant governor Anil Baijal chaired the DDMA meeting attended by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and some members of his cabinet, besides officials from the central government, ICMR director general Balram Bhargava and AIIMS director Randeep Guleria, among others. DDMA’s logic behind not reopening gyms was that people sweat a lot while working out and gym visitors are likely to come in contact with the body fluids of others, which could spread Covid.
Hotels and weekly markets won’t open from Thursday as they have to wait for DDMA’s order. A detailed standard operating procedure for the weekly markets will be prepared to maintain and monitor social distancing. The DDMA has asked chief secretary Vijay Dev to prepare the SOP in consultation with agencies concerned, like municipal corporations.
“The Covid situation in Delhi is much better now. Now, the economy of Delhi must be brought on track… In the meantime, everyone must exercise precautions and follow social distancing,” chief minster Arvind Kejriwal said in a statement.
The DDMA also approved delinking nine banquet halls from Covid hospitals due to falling number of cases and many beds lying vacant.
The LG office said that the administration needs to ensure strict compliance of social distancing and other protective and Covid-19 preventive measures and adhere to all guidelines issued by the central government to prevent the spread of the virus. “At present we are at a crucial stage where we need to continue our concerted efforts with the same pace to ensure that there is no resurgence of the virus in Delhi,” sources in the LG office stated, adding that Delhi cannot afford to let its guard down till the situation is normalised.
Hotels contribute 8% of Delhi’s GDP, and provide employment, while weekly bazaars emply approximately five lakh poor families, and the state government believed that opening these activities was important to kickstart the economy.
In the last week of July, the AAP government decided to allow hotels to reopen and weekly markets to reopen on a trial basis for seven days with social distancing and preventive measures, which was rejected a day later by LG Baijal arguing that the Covid situation in the capital was fragile and cautious steps were needed. On August 6, the government sent a fresh proposal to the LG to allow hotels, gyms and weekly markets to reopen saying cases had dropped and recovery rate had improved. The government had argued that the activities had been allowed in many states with more coronavirus cases.
Hotel owners were happy with the decision, saying the industry provides livelihood and employment opportunities for many. Delhi has nearly 2,500 hotels, including dozens of starred establishments.
Gym owners, on the other hand, are unable to understand the logic to keep them closed when they are open in many other parts of the country. Chirag Sethi of the Delhi Gym Association said. “The DDMA decision would be responsible for killing the fitness industry and over one lakh people would be jobless,” Sethi said.
The DDMA, meanwhile, deferred the proposal of the Delhi government to allow public transport buses to ply at full capacity.