To ensure people do not crowd shops to stock up their supplies and are able to practise social distancing, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on Thursday announced that all stores selling essential items will be allowed to remain open round the clock in Delhi.
"There will be no restriction on e-commerce companies and we have drawn up a list of those which will be allowed to operate. All SDMs and ADMs have been directed to ensure that shops selling essential items in Delhi are open and their stocks are sufficient. More importantly, we are allowing shops selling essential items to remain open 24x7," said Baijal in a digital press conference with chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday.
Baijal said keeping shops open at all hours will be optional; shopkeepers can decide whether they would like to do so. To this, Kejriwal later added that some factories catering to production of masks, sanitisers and so on will also be allowed to operate 24x7 and no additional license will be needed.
Essential items include milk, medical items, vegetables and other items of daily need.
The decisions were taken in a review meeting chaired by the L-G with the chief minister, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and all revenue officials of the city.
Dispelling rumours that all mohalla clinics in Delhi are going to be shut after a doctor in one such facility tested positive for coronavirus (Covid-19), Kejriwal said that the government has not taken such a decision.
"There is a rumour that we are shutting all mohalla clinics in Delhi. This is not true. They will remain open. At such a time when the nation is fighting an epidemic disease, such clinics are all the more important," he said.
"It is unfortunate that a doctor of one such clinic, his wife and daughter have tested positive for coronavirus. We are taking care of it. Testing centres have increased in the city," the chief minister said.
Kejriwal urged the Delhi Police to allow movement of those working with the essential services. "If a milkman is on his way to deliver milk, but has no e-pass, curfew pass or ID, I request the Delhi Police to allow him and other such genuine cases to go through," he said.
The Delhi government since Wednesday started issuing e-passes to those working with essential services to facilitate their movement within and outside the city.
Praveen Khandelwal, Secretary General, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), welcomed the move. "It's a much-needed step at this time of unprecedented crisis as it will facilitate more and more people to procure their daily requirements and essential goods. However, since the shops will be working in night also, adequate security arrangements will have to be made by the police and the government to avoid any untoward incident.
"On the other hand, issuance of passes to traders dealing in essential commodities and their employees should be facilitated by a separate window so that such traders may resume work as early as possible and Wholesalers may also refill the goods with retailers," he said.
The news came as a relief for consumers who were running out of supplies.
"It is a great move as now I hope people won't rush at one particular time (morning or evening) to the general stores and vegetable shops. So, now we can stagger our visits to such shops," said Prabir Kumar, a resident of Mayur Vihar phase 1.
Suman Devi of Hauz Khas, however, hoped the grocery shops near her home actually keep their stores open at night.
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