COVID-19 patients violating home isolation instructions in Punjab will have to shell out Rs 5,000 as fine, as per the new guidelines announced on Thursday by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Currently, there are 951 patients in home isolation across the state.
The CM also announced imposition of Rs 5,000 as fine for owners of restaurants and commercial eating places violating social distancing norms, as a deterrent against defiance of the restrictions put in place to check the spread of the pandemic in the state.
Further, violation of social distancing norms and social gatherings of more than the permitted strength will lead to penalty of Rs 10,000, the CM said at a video conference meeting to review the Covid situation and preparedness in the state, according to a government statement issued on Thursday.
The fines/penalties are in addition to those announced earlier in May for not wearing a mask in public places (Rs 500), violation of home quarantine instructions (Rs 200) and spitting at public places (Rs 500). Under the existing guidelines, shops/commercial places are liable to pay Rs 2,000 for violation of social distancing norms while for buses and cars such violations are punishable by Rs 3,000 and Rs 2,000 fine respectively, and in the case of auto-rickshaws/two-wheelers, the fine stands at Rs 500.
The additional fines come even as instances of violations continue to be reported from across the state, with average daily challans for not wearing masks standing at around Rs 5,000, as per DGP Dinkar Gupta. Captain Amarinder took stern steps to ensure strict enforcement of mandatory wearing of masks, as per the guidelines issued by the state government.
The CM also appealed to the heads and managements of various religious institutions to ensure enforcement of social distancing restrictions and other Covid safety guidelines, including masks, during visits to religious places in the state. He urged them to make regular announcements in this regard through public address systems.
Amarinder reiterated his earlier appeal to the kisan unions not to come out on the roads to protest against the Central government’s anti-farmer ordinances but to defer any such movements to check the spread of Covid.
In another initiative, the CM directed that mask vending machines be installed at vantage points such as bus stands.
Amarinder directed Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan and health experts to work out the modalities for setting up plasma banks also in the Government Medical Colleges at Fardikot and Amritsar, in addition to Patiala, where the state’s first plasma bank was inaugurated on July 21. On the first day itself, four donors had given their plasma at the bank.
He also appealed to those already cured of Covid to donate their plasma to help out those fighting the disease. The Chief Secretary informed the meeting that IAS and PCS officers who have recovered are also being encouraged to lead the way by donating their plasma. DGP Gupta said three policemen, including one Punjab Home Guard jawan, had also donated convalescent plasma at Patiala and DMC.
Expressing concern over the rising number of cases, which has now touched 11,301 in the state with 269 deaths, the CM called for extreme caution and directed the DGP to ensure strict enforcement of all the norms. Pointing out that 28 police personnel at Nathana police station in Bathinda district had tested positive, he advised employees with fever or flu-like symptoms not to come to office but to get themselves tested at the earliest. All the 28 cops were primary contacts of an ASI who had tested positive some days ago, the DGP said.
Gupta informed the meeting that another such case had been reported from Sub-Division Lehra, where a total of 33 personnel (about 40% of total force) had tested positive at Lehra police station, two police posts and DSP Office in a space of two-three days earlier this week. He said the Kharkhan BSF Campus, which had turned into a super-spreader, had reported 126 of the 723 samples whose test reports had so far been received. Results in 133 cases were pending while another 127 were yet to be tested. The positive cases were all asymptomatic and had been sent to COVID care unit at BSF HQ Jalandhar.
Citing the high positivity rate in Ludhiana and Jalandhar, the CM directed the health department to step up surveillance and testing in these districts to contain further spread of the pandemic. Jalandhar currently has the maximum of 18 micro-containment zones in the state, Dr K K Talwar informed the meeting.