Fearing a deluge of patients from across India because Delhi offers highly subsidised medical treatment, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal sealed the border for visitors from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana for a week and asked city residents for their opinion by June 5 on how and when the border should be opened.
Kejriwal also sought a public vote on whether hospitals in the national capital should be reserved only for residents. “CM Arvind Kejriwal has sought suggestions from the people on whether Delhi hospitals should be reserved for Delhi residents during the Covid-19 pandemic. Send in your suggestions by 5th June, 5 pm,” the tweet from the chief minister’s office (CMO) said.
There was chaos on Delhi-Noida, Delhi-Faridabad, and Delhi-Gurugram borders as only the entry of essential services and those with passes was permitted. Most people, buoyed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines issued on Sunday declaring interstate borders open but subject to state government review, got ready to come to Delhi to attend office, only to be turned away at the border.
Ironically, Haryana, which sealed borders with Delhi and relaxed restrictions partially only after the high court intervention, lifted bans on travel from Haryana to other states. Effectively this meant people would have been free to travel to Delhi, but Kejriwal’s announcement put paid to that.
“The moment we open the borders, people from across the country will come to Delhi for treatment,” Kejriwal said. “We will take a decision again in one week to open borders after suggestions from citizens,” said Delhi chief minister.
However, within Delhi, most restrictions were lifted: Salons and barbershops were allowed to open, but spa facilities would remain closed. All shops have allowed to open and the odd-even rule has been lifted, including for liquor stores.
Also, there is now no bar on the number of people who can travel in e-rickshaws, autorickshaws, and cars.
Kejriwal has reassured that Delhi has adequate infrastructure to treat Covid-19 patients. “If you have Covid-19 patients at your home, we will treat you,” he said.
Elsewhere in India, too, most restrictions were lifted.
In Tamil Nadu, Chennai was thrown open to shoppers; Assam announced salons, and barbershops open and Uttar Pradesh partially lifted restrictions on liquor shops (those outside containment areas are now allowed to open).
However, Noida and Ghaziabad borders with Delhi continued to be sealed.