Lockdown in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh extended till May 17 to curb COVID-19 spread

Delhi, Uttar Pradesh state governments have extended lockdown till May 17 to break the COVID-19 infection chain.
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The ongoing lockdown in Delhi due to surging COVID-19 was on Sunday extended up to May 17 morning with suspension of Metro train services and prohibition of wedding ceremonies at public places.

Announcing the lockdown extension, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said although COVID-19 cases and positivity rate have come down in the last few days, any leniency would squander the gains achieved so far in the current wave of the pandemic.

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Marriages will be held at home or in courts with not more than 20 people, according to an order issued by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA).

"There will be a complete prohibition on marriage ceremonies at public places, banquet halls, hotels and similar places during the period," it said.

Service providers or owners of hotels, banquets, marriage halls, sound system, DJ, catering will have to return the advance payments for marriages during the lockdown or will have to mutually agree on a later date for the ceremonies, the order said.

Authorities including local administration, police, civic bodies and Mandis will be responsible for ensuring COVID-19-appropriate behaviour at inter-state bus terminals, railway stations, wholesale vegetable and fruit markets and shops providing essential goods, it said.

The services of Delhi Metro will also be suspended during the lockdown, said the order. The Metro trains were so far operating with 50 per cent seating capacity and ban on standing commuters.

The Delhi government had been forced to impose lockdown amid a steep rise in COVID-19 cases on April 19. Although, the cases have come down and positivity rate has reduced from the high of 35 percent on April 26 to around 23 percent now, but strictness is needed, Kejriwal said.

"The restrictions need to be upheld for some time more. Otherwise, we will lose whatever we have achieved till now. As I have mentioned earlier, this is an extremely difficult period, the second wave is quite deadly, with many losing lives. First and foremost, we have to save lives.

The lockdown scheduled to end at 5 am on Monday will now be extended up to May 17 morning, stated the DDMA order. Movement on the roads will also be closely monitored during the lockdown.

Police authorities will ensure effective checking of persons and vehicles on the roads by putting adequate number of pickets with the objective to prevent unnecessary movement of people on roads during curfew, the DDMA said.

"Delhi Police will also ensure that movement of individuals and vehicles should be allowed strictly as per the guidelines/ protocols prescribed in the curfew order."

The Delhi Chief Minister said that he got feedback from many stakeholders and the opinion was in favour of extending lockdown for another week.

"We must remember Jaan Hai Toh, Jahan Hai...this time, the lockdown will be stricter and the Delhi Metro will not ply from tomorrow," he said in an online briefing.

Lockdown was imposed on April 20 amid rise in COVID-19 cases. Positivity rate touched 35 percent but with cooperation of the people, it now stands at around 23 per cent, he said.

"After April 26, the chain of the coronavirus somewhat started to break as lockdown was imposed. The cases began to decrease. Now, in the past 2-3 days, the positivity ratio has come down to 23 per cent from the earlier 35 per cent."

He credited Delhiites for the improvement saying they extended their full support in lockdown. "Everyone adhered to the norms of the lockdown. We have not done this as a favour to anyone else, this is a matter of our own lives and health.

The Delhi government utilised the lockdown period to strengthen health resources and infrastructure. Citing oxygen shortage crisis, he said the situation has improved significantly now.

"With the central government's help and based on the directions by the Supreme Court and High Court, the oxygen situation has appreciably improved. The emergency calls for oxygen are no longer heard," Kejriwal said.

The Chief Minister said that COVID vaccination has been going on a fast pace although there is lack of adequate stock of the vaccine and hoped the Centre will help Delhi government with supply of required doses.

Apart from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh government also extended the statewide coronavirus lockdown ending on Monday by a week. In a statement issued here, Additional Chief Secretary (Information), Navneet Sehgal said the "corona curfew" imposed in the state has been extended till May 17 morning.

"The corona curfew imposed in the state is giving positive results, and it is helping in breaking the chain of COVID infection. The number of active COVID-19 cases is registering a decline. In this scenario, it has been decided to extend the corona curfew till 7 am on May 17," the UP government said in a statement.

Edited by Anju Narayanan