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Delhi HC asks Delhi govt to explain why it isn’t allowing spas to open

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The Delhi High Court has asked the Delhi Government to file a fresh affidavit within a week, stating reasons why it is not allowing spas to function, if it has already allowed saloons or similar businesses to operate in the national capital during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Justice Navin Chawla posed a query to the counsel of Delhi Government so as to know if saloons are working then why not spas. The Court said it found prima facie merit in the arguments of the petitioners/spa owners that if saloons are allowed to operate, then they should be permitted to function. The Court will hear the matter next on December 15. 

During the hearing today, Delhi Government submitted it has already rejected the petitioners’ request, we cannot allow spas to operate in the present circumstances. Even the Central government has not replied to it. It has not relaxed it. 

Petitioner Counsel referred to Central government office memorandum dated 25/11/2020, stating the Ministry of Home Affairs did not have any objection to the opening of spas. Unlock order has already been issued on 25/11/2020. 

He further submitted that Delhi government in its reply said that we cannot open, even the saloons are open. Every business is open in Delhi, why there is discrimination against spas? 

Respondent/ Adv Anjum Javed- Considering the services of the spas it is not possible to maintain social distancing. 

The petitioner said, the only one reason, said that social distance not maintaining so what about the other activities like a saloon, etc. in Delhi NCR, all spas are open. They have to come up with a specific reply whether it is a departmental policy or government policy or etc. They made a statement yesterday in High Court itself that they are not imposing the night curfew as not needed because the Covid cases are dipping. 

Delhi Govt counsel Anupam Srivastava- Referring to the guidelines issued by MHA on 25/11/2020, unlock guidelines. In itself, it shows that spas, sauna, steam bath and swimming pool shall remain open. So, the Central government is specifically said to close it and not yet cleared. Hon’ble Lieutenant Governor has refused to review the status quo in view of the present situation. November’s situation was bad as compared to October and September. The cases of Covid-19 in Delhi are far more than what in the NCR. 

Petitioner submitted that the MHA has allowed it. There is the discrimination aspect. Why saloons are allowed to be open? 

Centre submitted- There is no confusion, basically the health and family welfare, in November 18, it has allowed spas to operate. In the MHA order in the exclusion clause, it has included under the close category but subject to guidelines. It goes to state government to review the situation. In nutshell, the only activities which are prohibited are mentioned. It is upon the state government to decide what to operate and what to close after making the assessment. If we have to say anything, we would have said so.

Petitioner submitted that people are starving due to closure of their businesses. 

Justice Navin Chawla- Open it, you can put some more kind of restrictions, observed. 

The Delhi High Court has noted in its order that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare vide its memorandum dated November 18, 2020 has already issued SOPs for allowing the functioning of Spas. On November 25, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued the Guidelines for Surveillance, Containment and Caution. In terms of Para 9 of the said order, all activities except the ones mentioned in the said para are permitted outside the containment zone.

Petitioners have submitted that other businesses which have similar operations like saloons, gyms etc have been permitted to open by the Delhi Govt. They submit that the additional affidavit filed by Delhi Government does not give any reasoning why they do not permit spas to operate? I find Prima Facie merit in the arguments of the petitioner. Delhi Govt shall take a fresh decision on the above submission of the petitioner within a week from today. 

The Court was hearing the pleas moved by several persons who run spas which have been shut since the first lockdown was enforced in Delhi. The petitioners contended that when a maximum number of businesses, like salons, gyms, restaurants and bars, have been granted permission to reopen and even Delhi Metro has been restarted, then why not the spas?

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The petitioners have claimed that the spas in other states are running with full safety measures, but are not being permitted in Delhi.

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