Lucknow: As the 55-hour weekend restrictions announced by Uttar Pradesh government end at 5am on Monday, the authorities have decided to impose a stricter lockdown across the state on weekends to stop the coronavirus spread, a senior official said on Sunday.
The decision has come amid a spike in the number of infection cases, which had crossed 35,000 on Saturday.
Additional Chief Secretary (Home and Information) Awanish Awasthi told PTI that the restrictions will be imposed from coming Saturday and remain in place at least for July.
"The lockdown on weekends will be implemented from the coming Saturday and Sunday, especially in crowded areas. Markets and offices will remain closed on these days. However, banks will remain open," Awashi said.
"This is being done basically to stop the spread of the infection through unwanted physical movement. Economic activities will, however, not suffer," he added.
Awasthi said the curbs will remain effective in both urban and rural areas of the state.
Meanwhile, shops and business establishments, other than those dealing in essential services, remained closed in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday.
The state government had on Thursday announced 55-hour-long restrictions from 10 pm on Friday till 5 am on Monday following a surge in coronavirus cases.
However, it kept essential services and religious places out of the ambit of the restrictions.
Only vehicles carrying essential goods were seen plying as roads wore a deserted look, as tempos, taxis and government buses did not operate.
Policemen were posted at all prominent crossings of state capital Lucknow and other cities.
Markets in prominent areas of Lucknow such as Hazratganj, Aminabad, Chowk, Gomtinagar, Indiranagar, Latouche Road, Alambagh, Hewett Road, Aliganj and Gudumba remained shut. However, the shops selling essential items were open.
In Kanpur, Naveen Market, Somdutt Plaza, Civil Lines, Meston Road, Panki, Chamanganj, Kidwainagar and other areas remained closed.
In Allahabad, the main markets in the Civil Lines, Mutthiganj, Lukerganj, Badshahi Mandi, Ashoknagar and Nawab Yusuf Ali Road were closed.
"Most shops in the Civil Lines area (Allahabad) remained closed, and will open on Monday," said Abhilash Basak, who runs a tour and travels agency.
The virus continues to rage in Uttar Pradesh and with 1,403 new cases reported on Saturday the tally crossed the 34,000 mark. Twenty-five new deaths were reported, taking the total toll to 913. About 22,689 people have been discharged from hospitals and the state currently has 11,490 active cases.
Earlier the Uttar Pradesh government had imposed weekend restrictions from 10 pm on Friday till 5 am on Monday, permitting movement only for providing medical and essential services in the state.
All markets, food grain markets and other establishments were ordered to remain closed during this period and the supply of essentials was being ensured through doorstep delivery. The movement of trains and air services was continuing but road transport was shut down. Buses, however, were being made available to air and train passengers.
“The curbs have been imposed in the state to check the spread of Covid-19 and other communicable diseases,” said Chief Secretary RK Tiwari in an order to district officials.
Tiwari said the decision was taken after reviewing the current situation in the state and to put an effective check on it, adding that all offices and markets will remain closed during this period although medical and health services and other essential services will continue as before.
The announcement came on a day when the state registered 1,248 new cases of the coronavirus as well as 17 deaths. Of the latest figure on Thursday, a maximum number of the cases were reported from Gautam Buddh Nagar with 172 cases, followed by Ghaziabad with 128, Lucknow with 85, Ballia with 61, Meerut with 55 and Kanpur Nagar with 45 cases.
However, there will be no restrictions on freight vehicles on national and state highways, said the state government order, adding that petrol pumps and ‘dhabas’ will also remain open along them. Railway services will also continue as before. While industrial factories in urban and rural areas will remain open during the period, they will have to strictly follow norms of social distancing.