Odisha orders complete weekend shutdown in 11 districts as state posts highest single-day surge
Odisha chief secretary Asit Tripathy said all services in these 11 districts would remain shut on Saturdays and Sundays in June except for hospitals, nursing homes, medicine stores, and petrol pumps.Updated: Jun 01, 2020 18:46 IST
The Odisha government on Monday announced a complete shutdown on weekends all through June in 11 of its 30 districts, where coronavirus disease (Covid-19) positive cases are rising, as the state posted the highest single-day spike of 156 cases and the overall tally stood at 2,104.
Odisha chief secretary Asit Tripathy said all services in these 11 districts would remain shut on Saturdays and Sundays in June except for hospitals, nursing homes, medicine stores, and petrol pumps.
Of the 11 districts, the state capital Bhubaneswar, Khurda, and coastal districts of Ganjam and Kendrapara account for 75% of the 2,104 Covid-19 positive cases. Cuttack, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Nayagarh, Jajpur, Bhadrak, Balasore, and Bolangir are the other districts, where the weekend shutdown will be enforced.
Tripathy attributed the spike in Covid-19 positive cases to the return of the stranded migrant people to the state amid the easing of nationwide lockdown restrictions, which were introduced from March 25 to contain the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak.
So far, around 4.26 lakh migrant workers have returned to Odisha of whom 2.49 lakh are still lodged in quarantine centres. Over 95% of the Covid-19 positive cases have been reported among migrant returnees.
On Monday, of the 156 Covid-19 positive cases, 50 were reported from Kendrapara district, and a day before another 129 cases were recorded, largely among the migrants who have come back home.
Odisha reported the first 1,000 Covid-19 positive cases in 67 days, and the next 1,100 were recorded in only 11 days because of the influx of migrant workers.
The state government has also tweaked the Union Ministry of Home Affairs’ order, issued on Saturday evening, on the opening of the places of worship, as it plans to keep them closed till June 30.
The state authorities plan to conduct the annual Rathaytra of Lord Jagannath and his siblings in Puri without the participation of any devotees, and the doors of the Lord Jagannath shrine would remain closed till the first week of July, when the chariot festival concludes.
The government said schools, colleges, and coaching centres would remain closed till July 31. Similarly, shopping malls, cinema halls, gymnasiums, and swimming pools would remain closed till June 30. However, hotels can function with 30% of their capacity, while restaurants would be open to in-house guests and also allowed to operate their takeaway services.
Odisha has decided not to ease the lockdown restrictions on night curfew, which will continue to be enforced between 7pm and 5am.
The government also raised the penalty for people not wearing face masks and spitting in public places.
“People, who’re found not wearing face masks in public places, will be fined Rs 500 for the first two offences and the fine will be increased to Rs 1,000 for the subsequent violation. Spitting in public places will lead to arrest,” said Abhay, director-general of police (DGP), Odisha.
“We have been observing that people have become carefree as if we’ve developed an immunity to SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19. However, we need to be extremely cautious all through June. We’ll strictly enforce the guidelines to prevent the spread of the viral outbreak,” the DGP added.
So far, 1,245 Covid-19 positive patients have recovered, and another 850 are still undergoing treatment.
Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Niranjan Patnaik has accused both the state and the central governments of the spike in Covid-19 positive cases and singled out the state authorities for putting more curbs on the movement of the general public, causing inconvenience in earning their daily livelihood.