Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday announced a weekend curfew in the city to break the transmission chain of Covid-19. This will be in effect from 10 pm on Friday to 6 am on Monday.

The chief minister’s announcement came a day after Delhi reported 17,282 new coronavirus cases in the highest single-day rise since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. The test positivity, which is the percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 out of the total tests conducted, jumped to 15.92%.

“Imposing these restrictions right now are very important and I hope everyone will cooperate with the government,” Kejriwal said after a meeting with Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and other top officials. “We will also be enhancing our enforcement drive to ensure people are maintaining social distancing and wearing masks.”

He added that there were over 5,000 beds vacant for treatment of coronavirus patients. “Please do not insist on a hospital of your choice,” he said. “There may be three to four hospitals that do not have any beds left but that does not mean that there are no beds left in the entire city.”

Here is a list of what is allowed and what is barred:

  • Essential services will be allowed to function during the weekend lockdown.
  • Only essential workers will be allowed to use public transport during this time.
  • Auditoriums, malls, gyms and spas will be closed.
  • Cinema halls will only be allowed to operate with a 30% capacity.  
  • At restaurants, there will be no dine-in facility – only take-away services will be permitted.  
  • Weddings already planned will not be affected and e-passes will be given to those attending. Weddings will have to abide by the rule of having no more than 50 guests.
  • Funerals will be allowed, with no more than 20 attendees.
  • Only one weekly market per day, per zone will be allowed to operate.   

The Aam Aadmi Party chief urged people not to panic and said entertainment activities over the weekend need to be avoided. Coronavirus cases, he said, are rising every day in Delhi and the restrictions were needed to check the spread of the infection.

In an interview to NDTV later in the day, Kejriwal said there was no plan to impose a lockdown in Delhi as of now. “…But we must keep in mind that our medical infrastructure needs to be ahead of the Covid spread,” he added. “Should there be a situation where we see the number of cases catching up with the number of beds, and other medical infrastructure, we may take a call on imposing a lockdown at that time.”

The chief minister said he was against lockdowns. “Lockdowns and restrictions won’t end corona, only slow down the speed of transmission,” said Kejriwal. “When the infection is spreading this fast, a temporary lockdown and restrictions are needed so that the health infrastructure can be managed. The speed at which corona is spreading is extraordinary and the infrastructure can collapse.”

India on Thursday reported over 2 lakh new coronavirus cases – a record high since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. This is the fifth straight day when India has recorded over 1.5 lakh new cases and the ninth consecutive day of over 1 lakh cases.