New Delhi: Shops in markets and malls reopened in Delhi on Monday, and other economic activities like registration of properties, offices and metro services, also resumed after nearly one and a half months, following more relaxation of lockdown restrictions, even as Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal cautioned people against any laxity.
The Delhi Metro, the lifeline of the city, also started operating on Monday, but with 50 per cent seating capacity and no provision for standing travel for commuters. According to DMRC officials, the line utilisations performed till about 8 pm was around 4.5 lakh on Monday. Journey or line utilisation is calculated by the number of corridors passengers use to reach their destination.
Although shops, including standalone and liquor vends, reopened in the city, cinemas, theatres, restaurants (except home delivery and take away), bars, gyms, spas, barber shops, salons, beauty parlours and weekly markets will remain closed till further orders. Markets and malls, however, wore a dull and deserted look and only a few shops and outlets reopened on odd-even basis.
Meanwhile, vehicles crawled on many road stretches as the volume of traffic increased following the relaxation of restrictions.
However, a senior Delhi Traffic Police official said the traffic on Delhi roads was moving smoothly.
Several people also took to Twitter and other social media platforms to share photos and videos showing long queues of vehicles on roads.
From general commuters to security personnel, everyone was happy to see Delhi Metro services resume on Monday, even as the DMRC urged people to use the rapid transit system only when necessary.
Services were restored from 6 am onwards after a gap of nearly three weeks in view of the improved COVID situation in the city. Fewer shops opened at some major markets where Monday is the weekly off in usual conditions. Shopkeepers could be seen cleaning and sanitising the premises while few were happy to make their first sale after a long spell of no income.
According to Brijesh Goyal, Chairman of Chamber of Trade and Industry, there was some doubt about odd-even in Old Delhi markets like Chandni Chowk, Kashmere Gate, Chawri Bazar, Sadar Bazar because there are many shops with the same number. “We told the shopkeepers that they should mark the shops at their level and allot numbers on the shops,” he said.
Goyal said the whole day of shopkeepers in the markets was spent on cleanliness and handling of goods while business was negligible. Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general, Confederation of All India Traders said the odd-even is a ‘rejected formula’ as far as the trade is concerned in Delhi and rather staggered timings of different markets would have been a better option to not only reduce human traffic in the markets, but also to provide ease of shopping to Delhiites.
The government has allowed all private offices to operate with 50 per cent capacity between 9 am and 5 pm. However, Kejriwal urged all those who can work from home to continue to do so.
Police and the district administrations have formed teams to ensure no COVID norms are broken as the markets, malls and complexes reopen from 10 am to 8 pm. “Our teams have been deployed in the field for enforcement and awareness so the unlock process operates smoothly,” a senior police officer in west Delhi district said.
The Delhi government offices, including the revenue department, opened with Group A officers and 50 per cent staff of lower ranks working there. However, all officers and staff associated with essential services will work without any restrictions.
The chief minister had on Saturday announced various relaxations in the ongoing lockdown that was imposed on April 19, saying the Covid situation was improving and the economy of the city needed to be revived.
On Monday, the national capital reported 231 new instances of the COVID-19 infection, the lowest since March 2, with the positivity rate dipping to 0.36 per cent. Thirty-six more people succumbed to the disease in a day, pushing the death toll here to 24,627.