No weekend lockdown in Chandigarh; night curfew from 9pm
Amid a series of flip-flops this week, the Chandigarh administration on Friday decided against imposing weekend lockdown in the city.
Also, the timings of the night curfew were changed yet again. It will now be imposed from 9pm to 5am. No gathering or non-essential travel will be allowed during this period.
The administration had imposed curfew in the city last weekend after a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases. This Tuesday, while announcing a one-day lockdown on Ram Navami, the administration also decided to continue with the weekend curfew and extended the night curfew timings by two hours (8pm to 5am). The latter decision was rolled back on Thursday (10pm to 5am), only to be revised once again on Friday, when the administration was also to take up a proposal for a longer lockdown in the city.
The latest developments come after the business and industrial community expressed strong resentment to the fresh curbs. The Chandigarh Beopar Mandal has been organising a chain of protests in prominent markets. A delegation had also met the UT adviser on Thursday to register its opposition.
Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation on Tuesday had stressed that there was a need to prevent the country from entering another lockdown. “I urge states to use lockdown only as a last resort,” he had said.
Indicating a change in the administration’s strategy, UT adviser Manoj Parida said on Friday: “We are balancing between lives and livelihood. Lockdown will be always the last option. Corona crisis may not end soon; so trade and industry must be given some window for operation. Infection containment is difficult since it seems the virus is airborne. Vaccination of 80% population to create herd immunity is the only answer.”
The decisions were taken in the Covid review meeting chaired by UT administrator VP Singh Badnore.
It was also decided that Sukhna Lake will remain closed at weekends, which was already notified days before the weekend curfew was imposed last Friday. Museums, libraries, gyms and spas will also continue to remain closed, as already ordered.
The estate office, sub-registrar office and Registration and Licensing Authority, where several Covid-19 cases have been detected, will remain closed for a week (till April 30).
Keeping in view the risk of spread of infection in hostels, the administration has directed all educational institutes to ensure that only those students are allowed to stay whose need is “essential and unavoidable”. The heads of institutes must ensure that the students are properly tested and their claims verified, said a senior official.
Industries will be allowed to operate at night, but have to follow necessary Covid protocol within their campuses. The management will be responsible if any violation is reported.
During the meeting, Badnore also stressed on intensifying patrolling to challan violators, creating more awareness among people, beefing up testing and vaccination drives, and ensuring availability of life-saving drugs in the city by preventing black marketing.
Meanwhile, the Chandigarh Congress criticised the administration for its failure to take political parties on board while deciding on lockdowns. “The administration seems confused over the matter and is passing contrary orders every other day, making people more confused,” said party chief Subhash Chawla.