Delhi bans public gatherings of over 50 people; rule applies to Shaheen Bagh stir

Kejriwal said gyms, nightclubs will be closed till Mar 31; decision on malls due soon

delhi airport sanitiser rep pti A woman being handed hand sanitiser at Delhi Airport | PTI

The Delhi government on Monday announced a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people till March 31 in view of the growing number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. This restriction would be applicable to the ongoing protest at Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens.

Announcing the decision after a meeting of a special task force set up to monitor the situation arising out of spread of COVID-19, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the SDMs and DMs are empowered under the Epidemic Act to take action against any gathering of more than 50 people, including protests. The ban excludes weddings as of now.

“No gatherings of more than 50 people, which are of religious, social, family, political or cultural nature, will be allowed. Marriages are exempted from this ban so far. But our appeal to the people is to postpone their wedding dates,” Kejriwal said.

He also announced closure of gyms, nightclubs and spas till March 31 and said a decision on whether malls also need to be shut will be taken in a day or two.

MCD commissioners and SDMs have been asked to install mobile washbasins at public places to facilitate hand washing. Soap and water will be provided by the authorities at these places. Hand sanitisers will also be placed at the entrance of buildings.

“The government is taking all steps at its level. We need the cooperation of the people to ensure that these steps are successful in containing the disease. We have seen how in some countries it [coronavirus] has spread to such an extent that it is difficult to control,” Kejriwal said.

He said Delhi Metro and public buses were being disinfected every day. Free disinfection facility will be available at bus depots for autos and taxis, he said.

Three hotels have been asked to provide rooms for self-quarantine for travellers on a pay-to-use basis.

On March 13, the Delhi government had put a stop on all sports gatherings in the city, including IPL matches, due to coronavirus. It had also announced a ban on conferences and seminars in Delhi.

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