THE PUNJAB government is planning for a complete lockdown of the state for two weeks starting Monday to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. On Saturday, it recorded its highest single-day jump of 11 new cases.
Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh said all establishments in districts of Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur have been closed while partial lockdown has been ordered in Jalandhar with effect from 7 am on March 22 (Sunday) up to midnight of Wednesday, March 25, by the district magistrate. Likewise, it has also been advised to close down establishments in Kapurthala from Monday as a precautionary measure. Factories engaged in production of essential items including flour mills, cattle feed, food processing, medical pharma, would not be closed by enforcing staggering of workers and other preventive safeguards, he added.
The government has already alerted the deputy commissioners (DCs) of all districts about the lockdown. A few DCs have made announcements in their districts, stating that the ‘Janata Curfew’ will be extended. In Patiala, the DC has extended the curfew up to March 24, while in Bathinda it has been extended to March 27.”No movement of people will be allowed except to buy ration and medicines. Everything will be shut except the essentials,” said a functionary of the government, adding that there was no option but to go ahead with this step to contain the spread of the virus.
“Everybody seems to be going everywhere. It is better to do it now rather than do it after the infection spreads,” the functionary added.
Speaking about the Janata Curfew called by the PM, the functionary said, “It will help us watch the situation. We will be able to take a stronger decision tomorrow. The chief minister is holding a meeting on this account.”
The government has taken preparatory steps included securing two months’ social security pension worth Rs 296 crore, which will be credited on Monday. It will also pay Rs 3,000 per month to each construction worker as financial assistance. This would entail a burden of Rs 100 crore on the government. The government has asked the department to credit the two months’ social security pension to beneficiaries immediately.Wheat will be distributed among BPL families under the Food Security Act. Punjab has already closed educational institutions, hotels, restaurants, public transport and other services.
Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday announced immediate relief of Rs 3000 each for all the registered construction workers in the state.
The money would be transferred to the bank accounts of the workers by Monday in a bid to mitigate the hardships being faced by them in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, which has brought all construction activity in the state to a standstill.A total of Rs 96 crore will be released for this purpose, said an official spokesperson, adding that the labour department has been directed by the chief minister to take immediate steps to ensure the transfer by Monday.
At the same time, Captain Amarinder has appealed to the construction workers to take all preventive measures and strictly follow the protocol guidelines issued by the health department to check the spread of this deadly disease.Assuring the workers of all possible support to them and their families in this difficult time, the chief minister said his government was committed to help out all distressed sections of society who did not have the means to fend for themselves at this juncture, in the light of the restrictions imposed to prevent further spread of coronavirus.
Janata Curfew extended in Jalandhar, Bathinda, Sangrur
The Jalandhar administration has decided to enforce a lockdown March 22 to 35.
Deputy Commissioner Jalandhar Varinder Kumar Sharma said that during the lockdown, all commercial establishments in the district, barring a few required in the larger public interest, would be closed. The officers said essential services would also be permitted.
He added that no one would be allowed to loiter and severe action would be taken against those violating the rules.
Janata Curfew in Bathinda will be from March 22 to 27. During these days, grocery shops, chemists, cattle feed shops will remain open, said B Srinivasan, DC, Bathinda.
In Sangrur, Janata Curfew will be from March 22-25, said DC Ghanshyam Thori.
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