WITH AN “unprecedented surge” in the number of Covid-19 cases “since the phased opening up of lockdown”, the Rajasthan government on Wednesday announced “regulation” of its borders and reimposition of travel restrictions.
The decision came a day after Rajasthan registered 369 cases — the highest single-day jump in the state — including 100 from Jaipur.
M L Lather, Director General, Law and Order, ordered that “due to the rise of Covid-19 cases in the state, the state government has decided to regulate its border”.
Another order issued by Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Rajeeva Swarup noted the “unprecedented surge… since the phased opening up of lockdown”. “Certain persons from hotspot and other areas, under the prevailing system of free movement, travelled outside the state, after Covid testing and before their report was received, which turned out positive subsequently, posing a threat to wherever they go,” he said.
Health Minister Raghu Sharma told The Indian Express, “There was relaxation beginning June 1 and we saw that between June 2 and June 9, there was an addition of 268 positive cases per day on an average. And on Tuesday, we saw 369 cases.”
The minister said screening has been tightened again and certain restrictions have been reimposed to check the spread of Covid as well as send a message to citizens that the threat of the virus has not decreased.
According to the latest orders, police checkposts are to be established on inter-state roads “immediately” and those in the state are not permitted to leave the state without getting a pass by the competent authority, which may be issued by the District Magistrate, the Commissioner/SP, SDM, Deputy SP or the local police station. The district administration may also set up a counter at the airport, railway station or bus stations to provide on the spot passes.
Issuing detailed guidelines, Swarup said that international air arrival is to be regulated as per the standard operation procedure (SOP) announced by the Union Home Ministry on May 24, while those arriving by domestic flights, trains or public buses may be screened upon their arrival in the state.
Those travelling by private vehicles are to be screened at the border and their IDs checked. However, those with a personal emergency — death, accident in immediate family or urgent need for hospitalisation — are exempted from the requirement of pass.
Swarup said the directions will be in effect “till further orders and till such time that the present situation is reviewed”.
Lather had initially ordered that the state’s borders be sealed, leading to chaos and traffic jams in some border districts. He later issued another order clarifying that the borders are only to be “regulated”.
On May 31, announcing the guidelines for the fifth phase of lockdown beginning June 1, the state government had said that there will be no restrictions on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods and no requirement for prior approval or pass.
However, in the 10 days following those guidelines, the state added 2,537 cases, including 691 migrants, and recorded 62 deaths, even though the number of active cases has stayed the same. There were 2,605 active cases on May 31 and 2,605 as of Wednesday morning.