New Delhi The national Capital gave a glimpse of the much longed for normalcy on the first day of the relaxed fourth lockdown. Under nothing short of a testing and trying house arrest for 54 days, Delhi residents were itching to hear Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s evening declaration on lifting of some of the restrictions.
Most people, in anticipation, decided to dust and wash their cars before they hit the road. Nobody cared for the unwelcome heat.
The sudden traffic on Delhi roads caught the traffic police by surprise and some places even reported traffic jams. As if on cue, some motor mechanics popped up on the roadside in Kalkaji out of the blue. So did fruit sellers with inviting musk melons and plums -- visible in their traditional hubs.
The poorest of the poor, however, continued to wear masks and watched the surreal spectacle unfold. In Nehru Place, one of the biggest hubs for electronic gadgets, computers and mobile phones, some computer shops had opened their rear door and were attending to customers who happened to stroll by.
Not all were adhering to social distancing norms, such was their excitement in the first brush with freedom. Agents with their faces covered with handkerchiefs kept stopping passers-by to ask if they wanted to buy a laptop or have one repaired.
Even before Kejriwal announced the relaxations, chicken and meat shops, stationery outlets, dairies, bakeries, sweet shops and Photostat shops opened in the posh Khan Market and Connaught Circus, though there was no heavy rush, as witnessed in other parts of the national capital, where the police had to even use force to disperse the crowd. For Delhi, it was business as usual – almost.
Taking a cue from the guidelines issued by the Centre, Kejriwal has allowed city buses to ply, but with only 20 passengers on board, who will be duly screened. Four-wheelers are also permissible with a maximum two passengers; bikes and scooters will not carry any pillion rider.
Likewise, one passenger will be allowed in an auto, e-rickshaw, and cycle rickshaw, two in a cab, 5 in maxi cabs and 11 in an RTV; it will be the driver's responsibility to disinfect the passenger seats after they alight. Car- pooling is not allowed. Each person, however, has to return home before sunset, as there will be a ‘curfew’ from 7 pm to 7 am when people won't be allowed to leave their houses.
All markets can open but shops will open on alternate days on the basis of their odd and even numbers. All industries will resume but with staggered timings; construction work is permissible but no trans-border workers will be employed.