Amid a massive rise of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases, the Punjab government on Wednesday imposed a statewide night curfew from 9pm to 5am till April 30, which was until now imposed in only 12 districts of the state.
The government has also banned political gatherings till the restricted period and said violators, including political leaders, will be booked under Disaster Management Act(DMA) and Epidemics Act. Punjab is one of the states of concern as said by the Union health ministry due to its major contribution to the active cases and fatalities of the country.
Chief minister Amarinder Singh did not miss the opportunity to chide leaders like Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, SAD’s Sukhbir Singh Badal, and expressed surprise at their behaviour for attending political rallies without adhering to Covid safety protocol, at a time when the virus is spreading so fast in the country.
“How do you expect people to be serious about the spread of the disease if senior political leaders behave like this,” Singh said, adding that the government would need to be tough to tackle such violations and book the political leaders as well, in case of any violations.
Ordering the police and district administrations to register cases against the leaders, organisers, and participants of the gatherings under the Disaster Management Act and Epidemics Act, he said even the venue owners, who would provide space for such events, will not be spared. They too would be booked, and their venues will be sealed for three months.
“The state government also put a cap on the number of attendees at funerals, cremations, and weddings to 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors. Wearing masks is now mandatory for all government employees while in the office. The new restrictions, with the curbs already in place like the closure of schools and educational institutions, except medical and nursing colleges, will remain effective till April 30.”
The chief minister during his weekly review of the Covid-19 situation said it is a matter of concern that over 85 per cent of the cases in the state are of the UK strain, which he said is more contagious and virulent.
Other curbs imposed in the state include a ban on social, cultural, or sports gatherings and related functions, in-person public dealing to be restricted in all government offices, and virtual modes of grievance redressal encouraged. Citizens should be encouraged to visit public offices only for essential services and the concerned departments should issue instructions for limiting daily appointments for works like registries etc, Singh said, adding that cinema halls will operate at their 50 per cent capacity.
However, there is some respite for shop owners in malls as the chief minister allowed entry of ten people per shop at any time, as against the previous order of not allowing more than 100 people in a mall at one time.
Singh directed Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta to ensure strict compliance to the night curfew.
Punjab has been one of the three states where Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ordered a Central team to visit.
Punjab has contributed 4.5 per cent of the number of cases in the country and 16.3 per cent of the deaths in the last 14 days, the Prime Minister’s Office said on Sunday. At a meeting with senior officials, PM Modi had called it a matter of “serious concern”