Covid-19: Punjab to continue with curbs, weekend lockdown

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CHANDIGARH: Amid a sharp spike in Covid-19 cases in Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday announced that restrictions will continue in urban areas, including a weekend lockdown in all 167 municipal towns of the state, along with 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew in all cities till September end. The decision has been taken in due consultation with the Centre, as required by the Unlock 4.0 guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, according to an official spokesperson.

Section 144 of the CrPC banning all social, political, religious gatherings, protests and demonstrations will continue to remain in force throughout the state, while gatherings relating to marriage and funerals shall be allowed only for 30 and 20 persons, respectively.

There will be total curfew on Saturdays and Sundays in the municipalities, while movement of individuals for all non-essential activities shall remain prohibited between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. within municipal limits of all cities in Punjab throughout the week, as per the orders of the Chief Minister.

Movement of students and others in connection with all kinds of examinations, admission and entrance tests conducted by universities, boards, public service commissions and other institutions has been excluded from the restrictions. Amarinder has directed district authorities to facilitate the movement of such persons.

Religious places have also been allowed to stay open on all days up to 6.30 p.m., as have restaurants, including those in malls, and liquor vends. The restrictions on daytime do not apply to hotels.

Amarinder has directed district authorities to strictly comply with these guidelines, said the spokesperson. He has asked the police to ensure strict action in case of any violation of orders under Section 144 of CrPC.

The spokesperson made it clear that essential activities and services, movement of persons and goods on national and state highways, interstate and intrastate movement of persons and unloading of cargo and travel of persons to their destinations after disembarking from buses, trains and airplanes will be permitted during the restrictive conditions.

These essential services include those related to health, agricultural and related activities, dairying and fishery activities, banks, ATMs, stock markets, insurance companies, online teaching, public utilities, public transport, industry in multiple shifts, construction industry, and both private and government offices.

Giving details of the weekend and night restrictions, the spokesperson said shops and malls, except those dealing in essential commodities, will be allowed to remain open till 6.30 p.m. from Monday to Friday but will be closed in all cities on Saturday and Sunday.

Shops dealing in essentials will be open even on weekends till 6.30 p.m. The existing restrictions on passengers in vehicles will also continue to remain in force, with only three persons, including the driver to be allowed in a four-wheeler vehicle, and all buses and public transport vehicles to allow sitting for only half (50 per cent) capacity with no person standing.

Government and private offices shall operate with 50 per cent staff strength till the end of the month, the order further said.