New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Thursday said that the fine for not wearing masks in the capital has been increased from Rs 500 to Rs 2000.

“People are wearing masks. But there is leniency as well. We need to tighten the screws. The fine which was Rs 500 so far has been increased to Rs 2,000,” Kejriwal said.

“You can imagine that COVID-19 will be spread on a large scale. So, celebrations are not banned. What is banned is the entering of a large number of people in a pond or river at once. Let’s celebrate at homes,” Kejriwal added.

The CM said that he chaired an all-party meeting today to discuss the Covid situation in the national capital. Kejriwal said that the political parties have agreed that this is the right way to unite and serve the people of Delhi. "I told all parties in the meet that it's a difficult time for the people of Delhi when Covid cases are rising. It's not the time for politics, there is an entire lifetime for it. We should set aside politics and allegations for a few days. This is the time to serve people," he said.

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On Chhath Puja, Kejriwal clarified that the AAP government is not against the celebrations, adding that the decision to ban the festival at public places is aimed at containing the spread of virus.

"We want our brothers and sisters to celebrate Chhath Puja very nicely. Please celebrate but if 200 people enter into a pond at a time, and even if just one of them has Covid-19, all of them will contract the infection. This is also the opinion of experts," the CM said. What is banned is the entering of a large number of people in a pond or river at once. Let's celebrate at homes, he said.

Earlier in the day, the Delhi High Court pulled up the government over its lack of preparedness to tackle the Covid-19 in the national capital. “We certainly cannot be silent bystanders to a situation that is deteriorating…We are not here to shake you out of your slumber,” the bench said.

Delhi’s coronavirus tally on Wednesday climbed to over 500,000 after 7,486 fresh cases and 131 new fatalities were recorded in the last 24 hours, pushing the death toll to 7,943. This is the highest number of deaths reported in the city so far.