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Lockdown isn’t a solution, people should observe self-restrictions: Gujarat HC

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on April 27, 2021

Several towns, business associations, trade bodies start following voluntary lockdown

With new Covid cases continuing to scale new highs in Gujarat and the government refraining from pronouncing a lockdown, the Gujarat High Court, on Tuesday, said it is the will of the people whether or not to break the chain of infections.

Even as different State governments in Maharashtra, Delhi and Karnataka have gone for a lockdown, the Gujarat government has repeatedly ruled out the idea of a State-wide lockdown.

Hearing a suo-motu public interest litigation (PIL) on Covid-19 management in Gujarat, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Bharvav Karia remarked on Tuesday that lockdown isn’t a solution.

“By imposing a lockdown how many people lose their one-day meal? This is not Germany, New Zealand, (or) London. This is India...People should think of confining themselves to houses and not venturing out without work. Why we can’t have self-restriction on ourselves? Why do you need to depend on government?” the Bench raised questions on the casual public behaviour amid the latest wave.

The Bench remarked that people should observe self-imposed lockdown for a week to break the chain of spread. “The government is not responsible for the spread. We are responsible,” the Bench said, adding that it is the will of the peoplewhether or not to break the chain.

Weekend lockdowns

Notably, several trade associations, including Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), have started observing voluntary weekend lockdowns. Similarly, civic bodies in districts have also appealed to people to adopt voluntary restrictions with reduced business hours. For example, in Vadodara, sanitaryware traders and welding merchants are voluntarily shutting shop after 3 pm daily till May 5. In smaller towns such as Prantij in North Gujarat and Anand in Central Gujarat the business hours have been reduced till 5 pm. Meanwhile, in Himmatnagar town, the civic body has appealed for a local lockdown till May 2, allowing only essential movements between 9 am and 4pm.

On the debate on economics versus healthcare during pandemic, the smaller towns and businesses in Gujarat seem to have struck a balance providing enough opportunity for businesses to operate, while reducing the exposure to each other to prevent spread.

The High Court noted: “People have started realising it (need for voluntary lockdown). (And) We see some self-restrictions being followed by shopkeepers. There is some realisation. Now, if the government takes some more steps, it will bring positive results,” said the High Court.

Published on April 27, 2021

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