Punjab extends lockdown till June 30
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday announced the extension of the coronavirus lockdown till June 30.
Though experts have advised against opening of hospitality services and shopping malls in the state, the chief minister said his government will take into account the Centre’s guidelines for lockdown 5.0.
The Centre on Saturday issued fresh guidelines relaxing the nationwide lockdown, the fourth phase of which ends on May 31.
The countrywide lockdown in containment zones has been extended till June 30, while hospitality services, hotels and shopping malls will be allowed to open from June 8, the Union home ministry said.
Singh announced his decision after an on-ground assessment of the Covid situation through a video conference with health experts and cabinet ministers Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Balbir Singh Sidhu and Tript Singh Bajwa, according to a government release.
During his weekly Facebook live session, the chief minister said the threat of Covid-19 was not over yet and if necessary, he would continue to take tough measures to save the lives of people.
Underlining the need to exercise extreme caution, he lauded citizens for following all health norms to help the state government in containing the spread of the disease to a great extent. He directed Bharat Bhushan Ashu to ensure distribution of face masks along with ration kits among the needy and poor.
Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta said wearing masks was being strictly enforced across districts and so far more than Rs 1 crore fine has been collected from offenders.
During the meeting, the chief minister sought an update on the state government’s plan for deployment of Covid-19 foot soldiers to track and trace infections.
Asha workers are being hired to undertake door to door surveillance across districts and they will be paid Rs 2 per head for every household surveyed, he said.
The state government will also launch a mobile application to trace symptomatic cases who are not self-reporting to health authorities.
In his Facebook session, the chief minister said people not reporting to health authorities was a big challenge as it complicated their contact tracing and endangered lives of others.
Though there is an overall decline in the number of cases being reported daily, the fresh cases in the last few days are a matter of concern, he added.
Singh said 36,820 people have been fined for not wearing masks and 4,032 persons for spitting in public from May 17 to May 28.
Regarding rapid testing kits, Singh said those received by the state from China and South Korea had to be returned as they were defective. On the crackdown on units manufacturing spurious liquor during the lockdown, the chief minister said 97 illegal ‘bhattas’ had been sealed, with 1,729 FIRs registered and 1,360 persons arrested.
The government was also taking stern action against those trying to smuggle liquor into Punjab, he added.
On the locust threat, he said all arrangements had been put in place in seven districts bordering Rajasthan and Haryana.