Easing out of COVID lockdown begins in J&K
Partial re-opening begins Monday; corona curfew limited to weekends, nights; edu institutions, coaching centres to remain shut; DC’s asked to regulate opening of shops on alternate days…
Jammu: With the Covid situation appearing to be on the ebb in the last two weeks in J&K, the UT administration on Sunday began the process of easing out the lockdown, limiting the corona curfew to nights and weekends only.
The ease-out process, to be implemented from Monday, was launched amid the case positivity rate falling to 6.2 percent from 13 and the daily COVID-19 sliding down to an all-time high of 5,500 to 2,200 in the past two weeks.
While deciding to relax the corona curfew, the Jammu and Kashmir ‘State’ Executive Committee (JKSEC), however, opted to keep all educational institutions, including the private coaching centres, closed till June 15.
The UT administration also opted to keep all cinema halls, multiplexes, clubs, gyms, spas and paid parks closed till further orders.
A 21-page guideline for relaxing the corona lockdown was issued by outgoing Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam on Sunday, a day after the UT administration placed five Kashmir districts in the ‘Red zone’ and the rest of 15 others in the ‘orange category’.
In the guidelines, the outgoing Chief Secretary said after categorisation of the districts based on the assessment of the Covid situation for allowing permitted activities outside containment zones, the new instructions, effective from May 31 till further orders, are being issued for effective containment of pandemic.
Subrahmanyam, who is also the chairperson of the JKSEC, said the complete corona night curfew would remain imposed in all 20 districts from 8 pm to 7 am, while there will be a weekend curfew from 8 pm Friday till 7 am Monday.
There shall be “a complete corona curfew” with no movement of people except only for permissible activities, including for providing essential and emergency services and supplies subject to production of valid ID cards, the order read.
The five Kashmir districts — Pulwama, Anantnag, Baramulla, Kupwara and Budgam – were on Saturday put in the ‘Red Zone’ along with the areas on either side of Jawahar Tunnel — the gateway to the Valley.
Lakhanpur containment zone on Jammu-Pathankot highway with a buffer of 500 meters radius too has been categorised as the red zone. Lakhanpur in Kathua district of Jammu province serves as the gateway from Punjab to the Union Territory.
The order said in the five districts in Kashmir in the Red Zone category, the public transport and the malls would remain completely prohibited, while the auto-rickshaws would follow an ‘odd-even system’ of operations.
“All permitted activities shall continue to be regulated in the UT from May 31, outside the containment zones, till further orders,” the guidelines said.
Extending the closure of educational institutions till June 15, the order said all schools, colleges, technical education and skill development institutes would not require in-person attendance of any member of the staff.
“The teaching staff shall conduct online classes only from their homes. The concerned departments will issue guidelines in this regard. The universities shall be permitted to seek in-person attendance of minimal staff only for research/lab/thesis work etc,” it said.
It, however, added that such staff of educational institutions as are needed by the concerned district disaster management authorities for official duties shall not be exempted from duties on account of this order.
The lockdown relaxation guidelines also allowed barber shops, saloons or parlours to be open on three days in a week (except on Saturdays and Sundays) as per a roster to be issued by concerned authorities.
The standalone shops of all types are permitted to open on alternate days or a rotation system on weekdays as per a roster to be issued by concerned DCs.
“Outdoors bazaars and outdoor shopping complexes are also permitted to open on alternate days or a rotation basis (except on Saturdays and Sundays) as per the roster,” the guidelines said.
“However, in the case of indoor shopping malls, only 25 percent of the total shops shall be allowed to open as per a roster to be issued by the DCs in consultation with the Malls’ management,” the order said.
It said the restaurants would be allowed to open on all days except weekends only for home-delivery of orders and room service of residents.
“No entry of customers shall be permitted even for take-away of orders.”
Bars, however, shall not be permitted to open till further orders. Canteens and eateries at bus stands, railway stations and airports are permitted to open on all days, the order said.
It said the sportspersons are permitted to resume their training and activities in outdoor sports stadia or grounds. However, indoor sports complexes and swimming pools would continue to remain closed.
Liquor shops are permitted to open on three days a week (except on Saturdays and or Sundays) as per a roster to be issued by the authorities concerned, the order said.