Lifting lockdown, reviving economy will be difficult: Kejriwal

New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) Claiming that the residents of the national capital are in favour of easing the lockdown restrictions after May 17, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday said while it was easy to put the country and Delhi into lockdown, but lifting it and reviving the economy will be much more difficult.

Addressing the media, Kejriwal said while several activities will be allowed from Monday after Central government's nod, no activities in the containment zones must be allowed.

“The nation went into a lockdown one-and-a-half months back after the same was announced on March 24. It was easy to put the country and Delhi into lockdown, but lifting the lockdown and reviving the economy will be much more difficult,” he said.

Kejriwal said that his appeal to the people for lockdown relaxations in Delhi post-May 17 has received an overwhelming response.

“More than 5 lakh responses have been received on WhatsApp, e-mails, and calls in just 24 hours. The responses were received on various sections, such as transport, industries, businesses, etc.”

He said on Tuesday he asked for suggestions from the people on the lockdown relaxations in Delhi post May 17.

“I had asked whether the lockdown should be extended or lifted, and the extent to which the relaxations can be given. On Monday, the Prime Minister held a meeting with the Chief Ministers of all the states and had asked all the states to send suggestions to the PMO before May 15 on the level of lockdown relaxations in their states. We are going to send our suggestions on Thursday.”

He said based on the suggestions received by all the states, the Central government will decide on the lockdown relaxations at various locations.

“But, suggestions on such an important decision cannot be drafted inside an air-conditioned office. People from all walks of life including citizens, doctors, and experts must be included. Hence, I appealed to the people to send in their suggestions for the same till 5 p.m. on Wednesday. In only 24 hours, we received more than five lakh responses, including around 4,75,000 messages on WhatsApp, 10,700 e-mails, and 49,000 calls,” he said.

Kejriwal said he also received suggestions from industries and video conferences were also held with industry associations.

“They have suggested the complete resumption of industries and arrangements for employing labourers living in nearby areas in Delhi.”

Kejriwal said that the Delhi government team has received very effective and creative suggestions.

“Maximum people have suggested that educational institutions shall remain closed until after the summer break. Maximum people have suggested that hotels should not resume their facilities for now, but restaurants must open barring the dine-in arrangements and take-away or home-delivery of food must resume. Majority also said that barber shops and hair salons must not resume due to the high risk of contact. In the same way, cinema halls and swimming pools, and other such gathering places must not open for now.”

Kejriwal said a lot of people have also asked for the logic and explanation behind not going out after 7 pm, as they are of the view that the timeline should be relaxed.

“However, every suggestion that I saw says that senior citizens and people with other serious ailments, such as heart problems, asthma, diabetes, cancer, are exposed to higher risk and should stay indoors, including children below 10 years of age and pregnant women. Everyone has suggested that proper social distancing must be ensured, and strict fines must be imposed on those not wearing masks. People have suggested the opening of parks for increasing immunity,” he said.

The Chief Minister said that many people have given their suggestions for the resumption of transport services, including auto-rickshaws and taxis, with only one passenger allowed in autos and two passengers in taxis and disinfection of these vehicles after each ride. A majority of people are in favour of the resumption of bus services, but with strict social distancing norms in place and not more than 25 people traveling on a single bus because not every person owns a private vehicle to get to their offices, which were opened during lockdown 3.0. People have also suggested that the metro should be opened in a limited manner.”

He said many market associations have also given suggestions that market places and complexes should open based on Odd-Even rules. Some people have suggested that even malls should be allowed to resume, with only 1/3rd or limited shops allowed to operate.

Kejriwal said that all the suggestions received by the government will be discussed in the State Disaster Management Authority meeting with the Delhi Lt. Governor before sending it to the Centre.

“The Disaster Management Act allows the central government to give directions to the state governments on its operations. Based on what the central government decides, various activities will be resumed in Delhi from Monday. Please follow social distancing, wear masks, and please take care of senior citizens, pregnant women, and people with co-morbidities.”

The lockdown announced on March 24 was to end on April 14. It extended to May 3 and later to May 17. The Centre is now having discussions on the picture post May 17.



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