By Neha Arora
NEW DELHI (Reuters) -India’s capital New Delhi will remain under curfew over the weekend and overnight to help curb the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, the city’s disaster management authority said on Friday, rejecting calls from businesses to ease restrictions.
The authorities, however, said private offices will be allowed to be partially staffed but people are advised to work from home as much as possible. “It is also clarified that ‘Night Curfew’ from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. everyday and ‘Weekend Curfew’…shall also remain in force…till further order,” the authority said. Exemptions include people needing to travel for medical reasons including getting vaccinations, going to and from train stations and airports, or delivering food.
Earlier on Friday, Delhi’s deputy chief minister said the local government had proposed easing restrictions as cases in the sprawling capital of some 20 million people were “declining considerably”. Frustrated Delhi shopkeepers protested on the streets this week, demanding that curbs be removed. “Now that the cases are coming down, it would be wrong to restrict people from moving out to earn for their survival,” Manish Sisodia, Delhi’s deputy chief minister, said in a webcast.
Local officials have said that most recent coronavirus infections have been mild, with most people recovering at home. The number of new cases in Delhi has more than halved from a peak of 28,867 on Jan. 13 and more than 80% of COVID beds across the city’s hospitals are unoccupied, government data show. Delhi has been one of the centres of India’s coronavirus pandemic for the past two years and has endured various lockdowns and curfews over different waves of infection.
The city imposed the curfew on Jan. 4 and ordered schools and restaurants to close as infections caused by highly transmissible Omicron surged. The financial hub of Mumbai has also been reporting big falls in infections since hitting a peak earlier in the month.