The Punjab government has decided not to give any general relaxations in curfew to the people to contain spread of coronavirus in the state.
As per the latest orders, people will be forced to stay confined at home and daily essentials will be made to reach them by the respective district administrations by engaging identifying local hawkers, grocers shopping complexes and malls.
The government has directed the district administrations to ensure door-to-door delivery through hawkers, tractor trolleys and other modes, or home delivery by working out modalities with local grocers and malls. The residents would, however, be allowed to step out in case of any emergency after getting a curfew pass from respective Deputy Commissioners.
A government functionary said that the decision, though hard, has been taken to avoid overcrowding. “It is being felt that people throw all caution to the wind when given a relaxation. We witnessed that during the lockdown. It was free-for-all. We have to be really stringent in ensuring social distancing to curb the menace of the virus. Otherwise situation will be out of hands,” he said.
Till Tuesday afternoon, the government was debating whether it should give relaxations from the curfew. A few district administrations like Mohali had even allowed residents to step out to make purchases. But the order was soon revoked as the government issued the guidelines to the Deputy Commissioners of all districts not to give any relaxations.
On Monday, Punjab became the first state in the country to impose a curfew after the lockdown could not bring the desired result.
Sources said behind the government’s strong step is a fact that over 95,000 NRIs have arrived in Punjab in last three weeks. The government has only been able to identify and home quarantine 30,000 of them.
“We are in the process of identifying the rest. We want to impose this stringent curfew for at least 15 days so that the virus does not spread in community. This is the only step possible to save the state from facing an epidemic. It is better to be safe than sorry. We appeal to them that it is an inconvenience for just a few days. If we are unable to control it now, the magnitude of the disease would be out of our control. So many countries are grappling with this already. It is for everyone to see,” the functionary said.
The government stepped in asking the district administrations to be strict after reports in the morning hours that the curfew was being flouted by residents. The Punjab police then handled the violators strongly and did not let anyone out. Till afternoon, the implementation was total, said a government functionary.
As per the guidelines issued by the government, during the period of curfew, door-to-door delivery of essential commodities including groceries, milk, fruits and vegetables will be ensured through pre-identified hawkers and distributors wherever possible and the grocery shops, milk vendors, fruits and vegetables shops and chemists should be permitted to open on rotation in a manner that at any point of time at least one shop each is open in a given area.
Such shops will be asked to provide door-to-door delivery on call. The shops permitted to open will be kept under supervision of 1-2 policemen to check over-crowding and maintain social distancing.
The guidelines direct the district mandi officers/ market committee secretaries to ensure system of home delivery of vegetables and groceries, respectively, otherwise people will flock in large numbers when curfew is relaxed and law and order situation may arise. Some bigger malls and businesses will also be engaged for door-to-door delivery.
The guildelines state that only in case of emergency, people may be permitted to go on-foot for 3-4 things namely groceries, milk, fruits and vegetables and medicines/chemists and, to doctors and nursing homes. No vehicular movement would be allowed without a pass.
In emergency, a resident will be able to call police or civil control rooms to avail necessary essential services. The control room numbers at all 22 districts have been made public already.
All-out efforts to trace missing NRIs: CM
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh went live on Facebook Tuesday and told people about the need to continue with the curfew.
He said it was in the interest of all to maintain distance, and also to trace and test all those who had returned from corona-affected countries.
Amarinder said that of the over 9,4000 NRIs and foreign returned persons who had entered the state in recent days, most had been tracked and around 30,000 had been placed under isolation. All-out efforts were being made to trace the remaining, he said, adding that constant monitoring was in progress to keep check on any new entrants.
Strict action was being taken, with prosecution under Section 188 IPC, against those found violating the curfew, said the Chief Minister, warning that a close watch was being kept on the 48,000 persons under home quarantine to prevent them from moving out under any circumstances. In case of violation of home quarantine, Sarpanch/Lambardar has been asked to report the matter to Ilaka magistrate, DSP or SHO, or call the police on 112.
Door-to-door delivery of essentials
The Chief Minister said DCs had been asked to ensure door-to-door delivery of essential commodities, such as groceries, milk, fruits and vegetables, through pre-identified hawkers/distributors, wherever possible. Cart vendors will be designated to deliver milk, bread, biscuits, eggs to homes every morning by SDM or Sector (Ilaka) Magistrate, as part of the curfew management system.
The DCs will disseminate the phone numbers etc for home delivery and also give permission, where needed, for temporarily going out for medical aid, essentials etc. In emergency, a citizen/resident should be able to call police or civil control rooms to avail necessary essential services, said the Chief Minister, adding that the police and civil administration has issued instructions to ensure that the citizens do not face hardship and are not harassed at this critical time.
Instead of blanket permission for opening of grocery shops, milk vendors, fruits and vegetables shops and chemists, the state has been decided to allow them to open on rotation, in a manner that at any point of time at least one shop each is open in a given area.
Such shops will also be allowed to provide door-to-door delivery on call, said the Chief Minister.
To check over-crowding and ensure that spatial distance is maintained at the shops permitted to open, the Chief Minister said it had been decided that these should be kept under the supervision of 1-2 policemen.
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