New Delhi: Metro rail services are likely to be allowed in the fourth phase of unlocking the country from the coronavirus-linked restrictions that are expected to be rolled out by next month, government sources said. But schools and colleges will still remain shut and restrictions will remain in crowded places like cinema halls, the sources added. The final call to resume metro services will, however, depend on the state governments. Delhi Metro is likely to start services from September 1, but with extensive restrictions, sources said.
The talk of opening the Delhi Metro gained momentum after a request from Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who contended that the coronavirus situation in the national capital has improved.
"I have requested the Centre that Delhi should be treated differently," Mr. Kejriwal said yesterday at an online meet with traders, entrepreneurs and businessmen.
"The coronavirus situation is improving in Delhi. If they do not want to run Metro trains in other cities, let it be so. But, in Delhi, Metro train services should be started in a phased manner, on a trial basis," he added.
Sources said the Centre's reasoning was that flight and train services have resumed which requires passengers to be inside a train or plane for hours. In comparison, the longest metro journey cannot stretch for more than two hours and is possible if all the safety measures are maintained.
The Unlock3 guidelines that came on July 30 ended night curfew and allowed the opening of gyms and yoga institutes that are not in containment zones. Restrictions remained in place in all other areas that involve large gatherings -- be it educational institutions, public parks, or cinema halls.
India has been recording the world's highest daily spike in coronavirus figures since August 8. Over the last three days, the number has been close to 70,000. Today it slowed slightly, with data from the health ministry showing a spike of 61,408 cases. The country has already logged more than 31 lakh cases of the disease. The number of fatalities climbed to 57,542.
On Sunday, Delhi recorded 1,450 new coronavirus cases -- the highest single-day spike in August that took the tally to over 1.61 lakh. The death count rose to 4,300.