The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Sunday lifted the weekend curfew from five more districts thereby increasing the arch of relaxation to 13 districts of the union territory after significant improvement in Covid-19 situation, officials said. The government made vaccination and negative RT-PCR report mandatory for people visiting indoor shopping complexes, malls, restaurants and bars and indoor sports complexes.
While relaxations were announced for Rajouri, Poonch, Pulwama, Baramulla and Anantnag districts on Sunday, weekend curfew was lifted on June 20 in Jammu, Kathua, Samba, Udhampur, Bandipora, Budgam, Ganderbal and Shopian districts. “There shall be no weekend curfew in these districts. However daily night curfew will continue to exist from 7 pm to 7 am. Concerned district magistrates shall issue orders to this effect," J&K chief secretary A K Mehta, who is chairman of State Executive Committee, said in an order on Sunday.
Businesses can now open throughout the week during the day in all these districts. A detailed review of the current Covid situation in J&K was conducted by the Chief Secretary, with the Additional Chief Secretary Health and Medical Education Atal Dulloo and others.
It was observed that as compared to the previous week, significant improvement has been made by 13 districts in respect of all parameters, the order said. However, “There is need for further improvement in interest of public health in all districts. Besides, some districts need intense efforts to reach desired levels. As such, there is a need to continue with existing Covid containment measures in these districts," Mehta said.
The State Executive Committee ordered that the guidelines and instructions on Covid containment in the union territory shall continue to remain in force till further orders. The market associations will have to fully cooperate with the local administration in ensuring strict compliance to the Covid appropriate behaviour. All shops in the indoor shopping complexes and malls can open only for the consumers who are vaccinated or for customers with negative RT-PCR or RAT report of 48 hours prior. The shop owners, managers and staff will have to ensure compliance to it. The district magistrates shall strictly enforce this measure, Mehta said.
The restaurants and bars can open for in-dining at 50 per cent of its total capacity, only for the customers who are vaccinated or are carrying a negative RT-PCR or RAT report of 48 hours prior, he added. The order further said that indoor sports complexes are also permitted to open at 50 per cent of its total capacity for persons vaccinated and persons with valid negative report for Covid. Swimming pools will however continue to remain closed, he said.
The paid public parks are also permitted to open only for the vaccinated public, Mehta added. In respect of the other (seven) districts, the State Executive Committee orders that weekend curfew from Friday 8 pm till Monday 7 am and daily night curfew from 8 pm till 7 am shall continue to remain in force, he added. All outdoor shops and bazaars are permitted to open on five days in a week (except on Saturdays and Sundays) and 25 per cent of the shops in indoor shopping complexes and malls can open subject to a roster to be issued by concerned Deputy Commissioners.
The measures related to Covid appropriate behaviour and opening of activities will have to be taken by the Deputy Commissioner in areas with higher cases, Mehta said. The Chief Secretary said that there shall be no restrictions on entry of passengers, returnees or travellers coming to Jammu and Kashmir, whether by road, rail or air. However, they will have to compulsorily undergo a COVID-19 antigen test through any of the prescribed methods as per the protocol of the government, he added. The travellers carrying valid and verifiable negative RT-PCR report of 48 hours prior from a recognised testing facility shall be permitted to enter without having to undergo a re-test at the entry point. This shall also apply to pilgrims coming for Mata Vaishno Devi pilgrimage, he added.