Delhi govt has a point on allowing hotels and weekly markets to reopen, but its record on checking spread isn’t encouraging
After lieutenant-governor (L-G) Anil Baijal last week scotched the Delhi government’s proposal to reopen hotels, gyms and weekly markets, the latter has sent the file back to the L-G, citing the case of certain states that had a higher number of active cases and deaths from Covid-19 than Delhi, but have kept hotels and weekly markets functioning. Delhi revenue minister Kailash Gahlot cited the examples of Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka that have functioning markets and hotels despite a sudden surge in Covid-19 spread, and talked of how, after the Centre allowed the reopening of weekly markets and hotels, the Centre is thwarting Delhi on this (via the L-G’s office). While the Delhi government’s point seems fair, the fact is that its handling of the Covid-19 outbreak so far hasn’t been encouraging.
Even though the rapid antigen test’s (RAT’s) poor sensitivity has been widely discussed, the national capital has seen largely RAT-led testing over the past one month, and with ICMR guidelines limiting confirmatory RT-PCR testing to just symptomatic RAT negatives, there is no guarantee that asymptomatic/pre-symptomatic cases are not getting missed. Against such a backdrop, allowing weekly markets when there is every likelihood that distancing can’t be enforced at all is a recipe for disaster. Also, the Delhi government has taken controversial decisions in the past, like the one on testing of the dead. Hotels and markets staying shut, without doubt, is a revenue concern for Delhi, and hits at livelihoods. But, the Delhi government will have a stronger case if it can put forward a plan on how it will enforce preventive measures.