Night curfew back in Delhi as Covid cases rise; essential services exempted

Just days after Maharashtra imposed stringent restrictions, came under night curfew starting Tuesday to control the spread of Covid cases. Following its latest round of review, the Disaster Management Authority decided to announce a 10 pm to 5 am curfew till the end of the month.

“It has been observed that there has been a sudden increase in Covid-19 cases in the recent past along with high positivity rate and therefore it is felt that night curfew needs to be imposed in the territory of NCT of Delhi…,’’ the DDMA order said. Essential activities and services can continue as usual.

With cases rising rapidly across geographies, many states may look at similar measures. The Gujarat High Court, for instance, on Tuesday asked the state government to consider imposing a full for three to four days. Some major cities in Gujarat such as Ahmedabad have already been under night curfew for the past few weeks.

Soon after the decision, neighbouring Chandigarh announced similar night curfew. In Rajasthan’s touristy city of Jodhpur, curfew has been imposed between 8 pm and 6 am.

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In the second wave, daily reported cases have risen sharply. On Sunday, Covid cases breached the 100,00-mark for the first time.

So far, the restrictions are much less stringent in Delhi than in Maharashtra. The DDMA has also listed out a large number of exemptions during the night hours. All central and government employees involved in healthcare, law and order, transportation and services like public amenities have been exempted. Healthcare workers in private sector, patients, commuters availing flights, trains or surface transports with valid tickets and diplomats among others, are allowed to travel with a curfew pass. Inter and intra-state transport of goods and services and shops dealing in essential items like grocery and medicines too will be allowed to operate.

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Many of the private enterprises Business Standard spoke to said there was an immediate need for universal vaccination to curb the pandemic. In the past few days, Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of Delhi, Uddhav Thackeray, CM of Maharashtra and business chambers such as Ficci, have urged the union government to widen the vaccination drive.

Joining the chorus, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking vaccination for all above the age of 18 years.

In the business community, restaurants, pubs, bars and hotels will be impacted heavily due to the curbs across Delhi and Chandigarh.

Kabir Suri, vice-president, National Restaurants Association of India, said the night curfew would hurt their business. “It is going to be a very difficult time for the restaurant sector. We somehow survived so far, but with the new guidelines, it seems highly unlikely that we can sustain any longer”, he said. In a letter to Home Minister Amit Shah, the Confederation of All India Traders said the night curfew would help little in checking the spread of Covid cases. It has already estimated a loss of Rs 1 trillion to the retail business due to the curfew in Mumbai and adjoining regions.

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