India has re-opened its main cities for business on Monday after a devastating second wave of coronavirus that has killed hundreds of thousands. The 100,636 new cases in the past 24 hours were the lowest in the country since April 6, allowing authorities to re-open parts of the economy.
Delhi’s Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, via Twitter said, “We have to save ourselves from infection but also bring the economy back on track.” While some restrictions like the ban on dining in restaurants, the use of theatres and gyms were retained, the Chief Minister has ordered half of the capital’s shops to open, in a bid to limit crowds, but allowed offices and the Delhi underground rail network to run at 50% of capacity.
Also, authorities in the western state of Maharashtra, home to Mumbai, allowed businesses to run until late afternoon with half of their employees, as they opened gyms, salons and spas. Cinemas and malls are to remain closed.
The re-opening efforts came as a result of the struggle to vaccinate the population of nearly 1.4 billion, which is a strategy to limiting third wave of infections. The pressure to resume some economic activity has grown as millions depend on daily wages to pay for food and rent.
Last week, the central bank cut its forecast for economic growth to 9.5% from 10.5% for the fiscal year 2021/22. The Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI,) Shaktikanta Das said, “The second wave had impaired the nascent recovery that was underway, but not snuffed it out.”
India added 2,427 deaths overnight for a toll of 349,186, the health ministry said, down from more than 4,000 each day at the height of the crisis, while infections now stand at 28.9 million.