Punjab government Sunday ordered a complete lockdown of the state to contain the spread of the coronavirus. As of now, the state would be locked down for nine days till March 31.
With seven new positive cases on Sunday, the state has witnessed a seven-fold increase in COVID-19 patients in the past couple of days, from three cases on Friday to 21 on Sunday.
All seven persons who tested positive belong to three villages of Nawanshahr district and include four family members (all from Sujjon village) of a 70-year-old deceased man, who died of coronavirus on March 18 in Pathlava village of Banga subdivision of Nawanshahr district.
Deputy Commissioners of all the 22 districts were asked to issue orders in the respective districts for the lockdown that would come into effect at 6 am Monday and would remain into effect till 9 pm on March 31.
Calling it a “lockdown” and not a “curfew”, the state government ordered that all non-essential services would be shut down, but there would be no effect on the essential services. Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh said, “There will be no curfew during the lockdown period, but restrictions under Section 144 shall remain imposed, thus preventing more than 10 persons from getting together in a public space at any given time.”
What remains open
As per the orders of the Chief Secretary, essential services including electricity, water and municipal services, banks and ATMs, print and electronic media including social media, telecom, internet and cable
operators and concerned agencies, postal services, courier services, essential IT services, along with e-commerce and its home delivery, shops of food, groceries, milk, bread, eggs, fruit, vegetable, meat, poultry, fish including departmental stores and supermarkets, and all other daily needs shall remain open.
Restaurants, bakeries, halwais, tea shops, eateries shall remain open for take-away or home delivery only and no seating or dine-in shall be permitted. Also, hospitals, nursing homes, doctors, vaids, hakeems, homeopaths, chemist shops, optical stores and pharmaceuticals manufacturing, petrol pumps, LPG gas, oil agencies and godowns, petroleum refineries and depots, petrochemical products will be exempt from the lockdown. Veterinary hospitals and gaushalas will also be exempted from the lockdown.
The government has directed the Deputy Commissioners to ensure restrictions are implemented strictly as for containment of the virus all persons are required to stay at home, and they should be allowed to leave home only if necessary for obtaining essential services, items or for
employment or duty. Godowns and warehouses would remain open and operations regarding the flow of wheat for the central pool will continue.
What remains shut
All commercial establishments and shops, except those dealing in essential commodities like food, grocery, medicines, will remain shut. All essential services such as water supply, sanitation and electricity will be maintained. Restrictions on public transport imposed earlier will continue till March 31.
The Health Department, in its separate orders, has stated that during the lockdown period, all private establishments such as shops, offices, factories, workshops will remain closed. Further, no public transport services (passenger) including operation of taxis/ auto-rickshaws shall be permitted except transport of all kinds to and from hospitals, airports, railway stations, bus terminals/bus stands. In this context, it said specific routes to be
allowed in the districts shall be decided by respective DCs. The Department of Transport may operate essential skeletal services of State Transport Undertaking to
ensure essential services, it added. All interstate commercial passenger transport (buses) shall be closed. The interstate movement of people in private vehicles is also being monitored.
A government statement quoting DGP Dinkar Gupta said taht extra forces were being deployed in all the districts. The police personnel will take all precautions for their own safety and those of the people in whose contact they will come during this period, he added.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh appealed to the people to remain confined to their homes, saying: “You can play the most vital role in preventing further transmission of the disease by not stepping out.”
Pointing out that COVID-19 pandemic had emerged as the foremost global threat, the Chief Minister assured that his government was fully prepared to face the challenge and had taken all possible precautionary measures so far. “However, we may be required to take more measures, including imposing tougher restrictions to save our state and people from any major harm,” he added.
The Chief Minister further said that those residents who have recently returned from abroad are required to undergo home quarantine and report to the nearest government health facility in case there is onset of any symptoms of the disease. The local community must also assist the administration in enforcing this in larger public interest, he further appealed.
Amarinder also urged trade and businesses not only to ensure adequate supplies of essential commodities but to avoid hoarding and profiteering of any kind. “It is important that we provide these commodities to our people at reasonable prices. We will not allow anyone to take undue advantage of the situation for their personal gains.”
State control room
Seeking the cooperation of the people in these testing times, the Chief Minister pointed out that a State Control Room had already been established for ensuring a coordinated effort amongst different departments of the state. Similar Control Rooms have also been established at all district HQs. People can reach out to the government on (phone numbers)181 and 104, the CM said, assuring of “an adequate and prompt response”.
The Chief Secretary in his orders stated that shutdown of all establishments is to break the transmission chain of contagion of COVID-19 “for which it is necessary to prevent/minimise close contact among all persons.”
“Henceforth, all the DCs/DMs would issue orders under section 144 of CrPc or under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 for shut down of all establishments except those providing essential services/items in the districts from Monday March 23 March (6 am) till Tuesday i.e March 31 (inclusive),” the Chief Secretary notified. The notification was followed by individual notifications by the respective DCs of all the districts.
The Chief Secretary’s notification said: “The Department of Food a Civil Supplies has already issued a list of essential commodities/items to all the Deputy Commissioners video Letter no. IFD(1455-2020/866, dated 21-03-2020. In addition, eggs, poultry feed, media, e-commerce and essential IT services will also come under the
category of essential items/services. Each DC may add any other essential item/service to this list as per local requirements to minimise disruption and ensure essential supplies.”
“All items/services mentioned in the notification includes production, manufacturing transport, storage, wholesale, retail and they shall be included as essential items/ services,” as per the notification. Further, all goods vehicles including those carrying the essential items are exempted under the notification, which, however, requires drivers and other work force involved in loading and unloading of the material to take all precautionary measures.
It has been clarified that the DCs will allow all ancillary activity for each item of essential services, such as delivery of newspapers by hawkers.
The Health Department has said that strict home quarantine, for 14 days (excluding the day of arrival in India), shall be observed by all foreign returnees, having landed in India on or after March 7. Their contacts/other persons at risk will also be home quarantined. The foreign returnees have been mandated to contact the District Administration (104/112 helplines) and register themselves for home quarantine and download the COVA Punjab Mobile App), failing which they shall be liable for legal action.
* Any postal, telegraph or telecom operators services, including any service connected therewith
* Any railway service or any transport service for the carriage of essential commodities.
* Any service connected with the operation or maintenance of aerodromes, or with the operation, repair or maintenance of aircraft, or any service in the International Airports Authority of India constituted under Section 3 of the International Airports Authority Act, 1971).
* Any service in any establishment of, or connected with, armed forces of the Union or in other establishments of installations connected with defence
* Any service in any establishment or undertaking dealing with the production of goods required for any purpose connected with defence
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