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Delhi govt rushed into opening liquor shops, says Harsh Vardhan

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3:20 am IST

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Harsh Vardhan

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday said the Delhi government rushed into opening liquor shops at a time when the national capital was still in the ‘Red Zone’. He also asked the Arvind Kejriwal government to review its decision in view of huge crowds outside these outlets, which increases the risk of spread of Covid-19. Many government-run liquor shops in the capital, which opened after over 40 days, had to be shut as people gathered outside the outlets did not follow social distancing norms, thus forcing the police to use mild force to disperse them. In most areas, including Mayur Vihar, Rohini and Janakpuri, a large number of people had lined up outside liquor outlets. The Delhi government has reportedly permitted around 150 government-run liquor shops to open from 9 am to 6:30 pm from May 4.

“I should not comment on what more needs to be done in Delhi, as it may be taken as a political statement. But considering the current status, I personally feel that more stringent action needs to be taken in the national capital to combat Covid-19. I think that minimum relaxation should be given by Delhi government during coronavirus-induced lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19,” Harsh Vardhan said. He also asked the Delhi government to review its decision. “It would not be right and wise to continue with a decision, taken knowingly or unknowingly, as its adverse effects have already become apparent. The Delhi government should review its decision,” the minister said. He said the lockdown has helped in curbing the spread of novel coronavirus infection to a large extent and the doubling time of cases in the country now stands at over 12 days. “Our graph is steady and our doubling time of Covid-19 cases is over 12 per cent which before the lockdown was around three days. Also, India’s mortality rate compared to other nations is less. The recovery rate of patients in the country has also seen a progressive rise,” he said.

Delhi is in the red zone, which means here the coronavirus outbreak is severe. Delhi has country’s third-highest positive cases for coronavirus at 4,549. Delhi’s all 11 districts are under the red zone. The capital has a total of 97 containment zones. Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said that the government will seal areas and withdraw relaxations in places where social distancing is not being followed. This came after social distancing norms were flouted by people at several liquor stores in the national capital. “According to the Centre’s guidelines, we have given relaxations. Today, I am pained. I saw people gathered in front of shops in some places and they were not following social distancing. This is not correct,” Kejriwal said in a digital press conference. “We will take strict action in the interest of the people.

Till when we will live in lockdown. Shop owners will have to take the responsibility, if the norms of social distancing are violated outside their shop then the shop will be shut,” he said. The Chief Minister appealed to the people to follow social distancing. “After 1.5 months lockdown, the Centre has given some relaxations from today. Very few relaxations are given in Red Zones. The whole of Delhi has been kept in the Red Zone by the Central government. Without people’s support, the government cannot beat coronavirus,” Kejriwal said. “People of Delhi have defeated dengue. Now, we have to beat corona. Do you want to live in lockdown forever? Lockdown will end if beat corona,” he said. Kejriwal appealed to the people to do three things—wear masks when they step outdoors, practice social distancing and sanitise/ wash their hands frequently. “If we take care of these three things, then we will not be infected with coronavirus,” he said.

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