India’s capital, New Delhi, will ease some coronavirus restrictions on Monday, allowing markets to reopen with limited hours and the metro transit system to operate at 50 percent capacity, the region’s top official said on Saturday, even as he announced preparations for a potential third wave of infections.
After enduring one of the world’s most ferocious outbreaks in April and May, the broader territory of Delhi has recorded a drop in daily new cases of 85 percent over the past two weeks, and reports of new deaths have plummeted. On Sunday, India as a whole reported more than 114,000 new cases, the lowest number in two months. But across the country, gaps in testing and medical treatment leave many cases and deaths unrecorded.
“The corona situation is under control for now,” Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, told a news conference.
Mr. Kejriwal warned that any new wave could be even more severe than the spring surge, when patients suffered from acute shortages of hospital beds and medical oxygen.
He said the region would build new oxygen-production and storage facilities, and expand the capacity of intensive-care units. He also said that two genome-tracking facilities would be set up to examine samples of the virus and identify variants, and that a pediatric task force was advising the government on how to protect children in the event of a third wave.
At the start of this week, Delhi allowed some manufacturing and construction activity to resume for the first time since a lockdown was imposed six weeks earlier. Yet even a gradual reopening carries risks, given that less than 4 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people are fully vaccinated.
Other parts of India are also easing restrictions. In northern Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state, Reuters reported that only night curfew restrictions remain for 55 of 75 districts.
In the industrialized western state of Maharashtra, malls, movie theaters, restaurants and offices will be allowed to open regularly as of Monday in districts where the positivity rate has fallen below 5 percent, Reuters also reported, and in Gujarat, government and private offices will be allowed to operate fully staffed, while shops in 36 cities will be able to remain open longer.
Long before the pandemic arrived on American shores, there were debates over the politics of mask wearing. More than a dozen states have laws barring people from covering their faces in public, most of them ordinances passed to deter the Ku Klux Klan hate group.
Those laws were suspended, revoked or not enforced as mask wearing in many states became a public health exigency.
But as the pandemic recedes in the United States and emergency orders related to the pandemic expire, the question of what to do with the old mask laws is resurfacing.
When Virginia’s coronavirus state of emergency expires on June 30, a mask ban from 1950 will come back into force.
The anti-Klan law, which presciently included an exemption for the declaration of a public health emergency, bars “any person over 16 years of age to, with the intent to conceal his…