After massive slump in Covid cases, Chandigarh starts unlock process
With Covid-19 cases registering a significant decline since the lockdown was imposed on May 4, the UT administration on Tuesday began the unlock process with major relaxations.
After five weeks, restaurants/bars have been allowed to offer dine-in services at 50% capacity from 10am to 9pm. Previously, these were allowed to only deliver food.
Similarly, shopping malls can remain open from 10am to 6pm. However, the eating outlets inside the malls can operate till 8pm. The malls must ensure that there is no crowding within the shops or in the open areas. Necessary temperature screening of visitors and sanitisation should be arranged at the entrance.
The administration has decided against opening of cinemas and theatres, but allowed gyms, wellness centres, clubs and spas to resume operations at 50% capacity. Owners must ensure that the members using the facility are vaccinated and Covid protocol must be followed.
Sukhna Lake will once again be accessible to visitors, from 5am to 8pm on all days except Sundays. Boating is not allowed. Police will issue challans to people not observing Covid-appropriate behaviour here. Museums and libraries will also reopen. Rock Garden will continue to remain closed.
Up to 30 people have been allowed at weddings and cremations, and religious, political and social gatherings.
Same timings for all shops
In the Covid review meeting on Tuesday, it was also decided to allow all shops to open from 10am to 6pm. Earlier, non-essential shops could open from 9am to 4pm and those selling essential commodities till 5pm.
Shop owners will have to ensure that Covid protocols are followed. All persons must wear masks and shopping areas must be regularly sanitised. Any violation will invite penalty.
Night/weekend curfew timings changed
The administration has also curtailed the night curfew timings. While earlier it was from 6pm to 5am, now it has been fixed from 10pm to 5am.
The weekend lockdown has been limited to Sundays, when only essential shops, including barber shops, will be allowed to open and movement of vehicles will be restricted.
While the second wave was climbing relentlessly in the beginning of May, the city had recorded 5,795 cases in the month’s first week.
In comparison, the number plunged to 661 in the first seven days of June, five weeks after the UT administration imposed lockdown in the city on May 4. Similarly, against 5,874 cases after the first week of the lockdown, the number dropped by 89% (661) in the fifth week.
“Keeping in view the reducing number of coronavirus cases and the need to bring the economy back on track, these relaxations have been allowed. We are balancing life and livelihood,” said UT adviser Manoj Parida.
“However, these relaxations will be reviewed and can be withdrawn too, if Covid protocol is not strictly followed. Nobody can rule out a third wave,” he said.
Preparing for third wave
UT administrator VP Singh Badnore directed all heads of medical institutions to ensure that their health staff and frontline workers were duly vaccinated.
He directed that beds be reserved for children in preparation for the third wave. It was decided to ready the Sector 45 Civil Hospital, ESI Hospital, GMSH-16, PGIMER and temporary army hospital at Panjab University for paediatric Covid patients.
Badnore also directed that a sero survey be conducted in the entire city to determine the presence of antibodies in the population. While the administration will bear the expenses, PGIMER will conduct sero tests for those aged below 18 and GMCH-32 will cover those above 18 years of age.