Coronavirus outbreak: Shaheen Bagh protesters must comply with ban on gatherings of over 50 people, says Arvind Kejriwal

New Delhi: Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced that any gatherings, whether religious, family, social, political or cultural, of over 50 people will not be allowed in the National Capital till 31 March in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

Operations of all weekly markets in the city have been suspended and shopping malls directed to make sanitisers available at entrances, as well as in stores.

The chief minister indicated that the ban on gatherings will also cover protests at Shaheen Bagh and outside the Jamia Millia Islamia university. These places have been witnessing sit-in protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register of Citizens and National Population Register for over 90 days.

"Gyms, night clubs and spas will be closed till 31 March. No religious, social, cultural and political gatherings comprising more than 50 people will be allowed in Delhi till 31 March. The restriction is applicable to protests too," Kejriwal said at a press conference.

When asked if the ban will have the Shaheen Bagh protests under its ambit, the AAP leader asserted, "It (the ban) will be applicable for everyone, be it protest or any other gathering."

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There is, however, no restriction on weddings but people are advised to postpone the dates, the chief minister said.

All auto-rickshaws and taxis will be disinfected for free to prevent the spread of the deadly disease, he said.

"Of the seven people who have been tested positive for COVID-19 in the national capital, four are still recovering," Kejriwal said.

"We have arranged sufficient beds if cases increase and hospitalisation is needed. Quarantine facilities have been set up at three hotels — Lemon Tree, Red Fox, IBIS," the chief minister said.

The Delhi government had last week ordered closure of cinema halls, schools, universities and swimming pools till 31 March.

Kejriwal said the government is implementing the guidelines of the Centre and working with it in close coordination.

"We are quarantining people wherever needed. For possible large-scale hospitalisation, we have made sufficient arrangements, including setting aside 500 beds. There is no need for them as of now. People who came in touch with patients have been home quarantined. I appeal to people to ensure home quarantined people abide by norms," he said.

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) commissioners and sub divisional magistrates (SDMs) have been directed to arrange mobile wash basins in public places.

On the possibility of a sudden spike in coronavirus cases like in Italy, Kejriwal said, "We can only learn from other countries. Italy has seen exponential growth (of such cases). But in India, community transmission has not started."

The chief minister said the government has taken note of the grievances pertaining to hygiene from travellers from Spain and France put up in a quarantine facility in Dwarka.

"People flying in from abroad mostly belong to the affluent class. In some cases, the facilities may not be up to their expectations. There are shortcomings also. So, we have made arrangements for them in certain hotels," he said.

Responding to a question, Kejriwal said the government will examine if thermal screening for coronavirus can be done in Delhi Metro as well.

Updated Date: Mar 16, 2020 19:21:15 IST



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