Delhi government on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that the issue as to whether spas can be re-opened in the national capital amid the ongoing COVID19 pandemic was under its active consideration. Justice Rekha Palli took on record the statement made by government counsel Naushad Khan on a petition filed by Delhi Wellness Spa Association for re-opening of spas.
The Association claims that its members have valid licenses to run the spas here. The lawyer informed the court that a petition by owners of two spa centers seeking similar relief was already coming up for hearing on July 20. The court said it wants a decision on the issue of re-opening by then. I want a decision by that time. You are opening everything., Justice Rekha Palli said and asked the lawyer to take instructions. Khan submitted that a balanced view has to be taken in view of the second wave of the pandemic and the plight of persons affected by the closure. Senior advocate Sachin Dutta, appearing for Delhi Wellness Spa Association, told the court that keeping spas closed affected as many as 50,000 to 60,000 persons who are associated with the sector.
They are on the verge of starvation, he said and clarified that the plea was not adversarial in nature and the case load of the virus had come down in the national capital. He added that the government may even chose to impose a condition that those working in spas have to be vaccinated. Khan objected to the plea saying that the Association here was not a registered association of spa centres. In its petition filed through HD Thanvi & Associates, the Association has submitted that it is aggrieved by the arbitrary, unlawful, and unwarranted and in-ordinate delay in not opening the spas in the national capital. It is stated that while all similar activities have been permitted to be opened, such as gym and salon, Delhi government is yet to permit spas to once again start their operation. On July 5, the court had sought response of the Delhi government and the Centre on the plea filed by owners of two spa centers, alleging inordinate delay in issuing guidelines to reopen spa centres which were closed in April due to the second wave of COVID-19.
The court said that it expected Delhi government to be ready with an explanation as to why spas were not permitted to be open in spite of a January order which directed the reopening of spa centers closed during the first wave of the pandemic. In the January order, the court stated that the slightly higher percentage of risk due to the proximity of the client and the service provider in spas could be obviated by prescribing stricter measures and safeguards rather than continuing to keep such establishments closed.