Lockdown restrictions eased, but Delhi borders to be sealed: Kejriwal

AAP govt mulling reserving Delhi hospitals for COVID treatment of only Delhiites

‘Protect your families’: Delhi CM Kejriwal’s message as lockdown begins Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addresses a digital press conference on COVID-19 | Twitter via PTI

The Delhi government on Monday announced sealing of the capital's borders for a week pending a decision on the issue of whether the city should shut its borders and allow its hospitals to treat only those patients who are its residents during the COVID outbreak.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal declared that Delhi's borders will remain sealed for a week, and access will be provided only to essential services. He said government employees working in Delhi could pass through on the basis of their identity cards, while others will require passes to enter the capital.

Kejriwal said his government was faced with the question of whether it should shut Delhi's borders and reserve its hospitals for treatment of the city's residents only during the COVID outbreak. He went on to seek suggestions from Delhiites on these two issues, and said his government will take a decision on these matters by next week. In the meantime, the capital's borders will be sealed for a week, he said.

“Corona cases are increasing fast in Delhi. It is a matter of concern, but there is no need to panic. I can say so because in the last five years, we have invested a lot in hospitals, in healthcare facilities, in increasing the number of beds and ICUs, in Mohalla clinics... It is for this reason that while healthcare facilities collapsed the world over, despite a surge in the number of cases in Delhi, there is a bed available for every patient,” he said.

The chief minister said while there are around 2,300 COVID patients in Delhi's hospitals as of now, the city will have 9,500 beds available by June 5, and an app was being launched to give people realtime information on the availability of beds and ventilators in hospitals.

“When we open our borders, people from all over the country will come here for treatment. Our beds will be filled up in two days. A big question, therefore, before us is whether we should open our borders,” Kejriwal said, noting that people from different parts of the country have been coming to Delhi for treatment because the facilities here are much better than in any other state or city.

“Some people are of the opinion that we can keep our borders open, but Delhi's hospitals should be only for the residents of Delhi. But Delhi is also known as “Dilli Dilwalon Ki”. It is the capital of the country that welcomes everyone. So there is another opinion that we should reserve our healthcare facilities for Delhiites only till the corona outbreak persists,” he said.

Kejriwal has asked people to send in their suggestions on these issues till June 5.

The chief minister, meanwhile, said his government will implement all the relaxations announced by the Centre in its guidelines issued for the current phase of the lockdown, which began on Monday.

He announced that barber shops and salons can now open in Delhi, but spas will not be opened for the time being. All shops in market complexes can now open and the restriction of staggered work hours is being removed from industrial units, he said. The 9 pm to 5 am curfew timings will be implemented, he added.

The restriction of carrying only one passenger has been removed with regard to auto rickshaws and e-rickshaws. The restriction on the number of passengers in four-wheelers has been done away with. Pillion riding will be allowed for two-wheelers now.