The Punjab government on Monday announced not more than two persons can travel in a car, 50 per cent staff strength at government offices and a negative coronavirus test report must for those entering the state as part of added curbs amid rising COVID-19 cases and fatalities. These restrictions, in addition to the earlier ones, will remain in effect till May 15, according to the Punjab Home Department’s directive to all deputy commissioners and district police chiefs.
Punjab is among the worst-hit states in the second wave of the pandemic. On Saturday, it registered 7,041 fresh COVID-19 cases, the highest in a day, bringing the infection count to 3,77,990, while 138 more fatalities took the toll to 9,160. Anybody arriving in Punjab by air, rail or road must have a negative COVID report which is not more than 72-hour old or produces vaccination certificate, at least of one dose, over two weeks old.
All four-wheeler passenger vehicles, including cars and taxis, will not be allowed to seat more than two passengers in the state. However, vehicles carrying patients to hospitals will be exempted, according to the directions. It also stated that pillion riding on scooters and motorcycles will not be allowed except for those belonging to the same family and living in the same house.
All shops selling non-essential items will remain shut. Those dealing in medicines and essential items like milk, bread, vegetables, fruits, dairy and poultry products like eggs, meat, mobile repair will be allowed.
All government offices, as well as banks, will work at 50 per cent strength other than those where officials are involved in COVID management, according to the new directives, which also stated that deputy commissioners are authorised to draft services of any official for COVID management and related duties.
No gathering of more than 10 people, including for weddings, cremations and funerals, will be allowed. Villages will hold vigil to ensure orders related to night and weekend curfews are complied with.
Religious places will be closed at 6 pm every day and there must be no overcrowding. There will also be RT-PCR testing of street vendors and social distancing must be maintained in vegetable markets, according to the directives of the state home department.
An appeal would also be made to farmer unions and religious leaders not to hold gatherings and restrict the number of protestors. With a ban on social, cultural, sports and other gatherings already in place, there will also be a complete ban on government functions, such as inaugurations, foundation stone laying ceremonies unless permission of the deputy commissioner has been obtained.
The state government has already imposed a night curfew from 6 pm till 5 am and weekend lockdown from 6 pm on Fridays till 5 am on Mondays.