Assam has announced a complete lockdown in the state from 6pm, March 24 till March 31 to prevent the containment of COVID-19 in the state. Grocery shops, pharmacies, petrol depots and other essential services will remain open through this period. On Monday, Assam Health Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma addressed a press conference in Guwahati announcing the lockdown. “Needless to say hospitals, fire brigade, electricity, public health engineering etc will remain open,” he told reporters.
Assam has not reported a positive COVID-19 test so far. As of 4pm, Monday, 169 samples were tested in the four accredited testing laboratories in the state. “148 samples have tested negative and results of 21 samples are awaited,” said Sarma.
The minister also announced that apart from ambulances, all inter-state movement of private and public vehicles will be stopped. All inter-state borders will be sealed as well.
Treasury, banks, ATMs and finance-related government departments will remain open up to March 31. “We have exempted banks, subject to the regulations the [individual] banks have brought in themselves,” said Sarma.
Seeking cooperation of everyone as we have decided for a complete lockdown in Assam from 6 PM tomorrow till 12 PM of March 31.
However, essential services will be exempted from this. Let us fight #COVID19 together.
— Sarbananda Sonowal (@sarbanandsonwal) March 23, 2020
According to a notification issued on Monday night by Assam Chief Secretary, Kumar Sanjay Krishna, a set of “complete safety restrictions” are to be put in effect from 6 pm, March 24 to March 31.
– No transport services, including taxis and auto rickshaws, will be permitted. However, the exception will include transport of all kinds to and from hospitals, airports, railway station, bus terminals/ bus stands and for essential services.
– All shops, commercial establishments, offices and factories, workshops, godowns etc. shall close operations.
– All foreign returnees are directed to remain under strict home quarantine for a period as decided by local health authorities.
– People are required to stay at home and come out only for basic services while strictly following social distancing guidelines.
– Only limited religious rituals shall be performed at temples, mosques etc. There will be no community participation, and a maximum of three priests/imams etc are permitted at a given time.
– Any congregation of more than five persons shall be prohibited.
Establishments providing essential services exempted
– Essential food items including PDS, grocery shops (with limited staff), storage and their transportation good vehicles.
– Law and order courts and correctional services.
– Health services and persons involved with logistic support of healthcare services.
– Police, armed forces and para-military forces.
– Electricity, water, and municipal services.
– Fire, civil defence and emergency services.
– Telecom and internet Services including IT & ITeS
– Essential Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) operations.
– Postal services, banks and ATMs.
– Government treasury with limited staff.
– Offices ordered to be open by the Finance department.
– Airports with restricted flights.
– Vehicles/cab contracted by exempted categories and vehicle permitted for emergency use by authorised officials.
– Petrol pumps, oil agencies, LPG agencies and their godowns.
– Pharmacy, pharmaceuticals, surgical manufacturing units and other medical surgical supplies and their transportation related activities.
– Production and manufacturing units requiring continuous process may continue to function with prior permission from District Magistrate.
– Print and electronic media.
– Manufacturing units engaged in production of essential commodities/hospital supplies/industrial units engaged in manufacturing of products of public safety and hygiene.
The notice added that any person violating these instructions can be booked under section 188 of the IPC (45 of 1860) and other applicable legal provisions.
Financial aid to those residents abroad, NFSA to be fast-tracked
Sarma said he will introduce measures to deal with the economic impact of the lockdown in the next few days. He added that free rice provision announced in the state’s annual budget under National Food Security Act will possibly be fast-tracked to April 1. This be officially announced soon.
Sarma urged the people of the state to be serious about observing the lockdown. “If anyone violates the lockdown, they will be jailed for six months in the first instance, and two years on the second instance, under different provisions of the Indian Penal Code,” said Sarma.
He added: “We observed the [janata] curfew well yesterday. However, there were some people decided to step out. While clapping, many came out in a procession. Please do not convert Corona into a festival. This is a dangerous virus.”
He added that people who have entered Assam from three states (Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka), which have recorded a high number of positive cases, should observe strict home quarantine “whatever maybe the circumstances.” He said that Section 270 of the Indian Penal Code will be implemented in case of violation.
Sarma also requested people to only go to grocery shops and pharmacies near their homes/in their neighbourhoods, unless absolutely necessary. “Otherwise it will be considered as a violation — in case of violation, police will assess each situation and act accordingly,” he said.
The minister also said that the Solapur Civil Hospital in Guwahati was being converted to a COVID-19 treatment centre.
Citizens of Assam who went abroad 30 days prior to March 22 and unable to return due to #CoronaOutbreak can seek assistance from State Govt. Please send details at email@example.com or on Assam Fin Dept Twitter handle @AssamFinDept #IndiaFightsCorona #COVIDー19
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) March 23, 2020
The government had earlier announced that those residents of the state who were unable to return home due to the outbreak, will receive a one-time financial assistance of US $ 2000. Such persons can communicate to the government by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org or Finance Department Twitter handle @assamfindept.
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