Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh (Photo/Twitter)
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh (Photo/Twitter)

Punjab imposes fresh restrictions to curb Covid surge, educational institutions closed till March 31

ANI | Updated: Mar 19, 2021 18:28 IST

Chandigarh (Punjab) [India], March 19 (ANI): Clamping down heavily on the fresh surge of COVID-19 cases, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday ordered massive state-wide restrictions starting from tomorrow, with the closure of educational institutions till March 31 and restrictions on cinema/mall capacities.
"All educational institutions, other than medical and nursing colleges, will remain closed till March 31, with restriction of 50 per cent capacity in cinema halls and not more than 100 persons in a mall at any time," as per a release issued by the state government.
The Punjab Chief Minister appealed to the people to keep social activity in their houses to the bare minimum for the next 2 weeks to break the transmission chain. "Not more than 10 visitors should be entertained in homes," he urged.
In the 11 worst-hit districts, a complete ban has been ordered on all social gatherings and related functions, except for funerals/cremations/ weddings, which will be allowed with only 20 persons in attendance. This will be enforced from Sunday (March 21). In these districts, which will remain under night curfew from 9 pm to 5 am, cinemas, multiplexes, restaurants, malls etc will remain closed on Sundays, though home deliveries will be allowed subject to the night curfew. Industries and essential services shall be allowed to function, but barring these, all restrictions will be strictly enforced, the Chief Minister directed the top civic and police officials in these districts.
Also, starting next week, one hour of silence will be observed across the state every Saturday, from 11 am to 12 noon, in memory of those who lost their lives to COVID, with no vehicle to ply at this time. The Chief Minister asked the district administration to involve the general public, along with market committees, sarpanches etc, in this initiative, which will, however, remain voluntary for them.
In the 11 worst affected districts of Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala, Mohali, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, SBS Nagar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ropar and Moga, the Chief Minister ordered restrictions on in-person public dealings in government offices, with citizens to be encouraged to visit offices only for essential services.
Though other districts will not be placed under such stringent restrictions, for now, the Chief Minister ordered immediate reinforcement and strict monitoring of the strategy of micro-containment and containment zones where there are evident clusters. He made it clear that if necessary, strict curbs will also be imposed in other districts if the situation worsens and Covid protocols and norms are not adhered to be by the people.
The situation will be reviewed after two weeks, said the Chief Minister, chairing a meeting of the Covid Task Force with top officials.
Directing health officials to ramp up testing per day to 35,000, he said the special focus should be on super spreaders, and Government employees, teachers in educational institutions, etc. must be tested routinely. Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) testing should be stepped up along with RT-PCR testing, he ordered, while directing contact tracing and contact testing to be taken up to 30 per positive person. "The COVID patient tracking officers (CPTOs) must personally monitor this task," he said.
The Chief Minister also directed the Department of Medical Education and Research to immediately complete the recruitment of specialists/super-specialists.
He said well-functioning hospitals, where serious cases are best handled, have been advised to restore the Covid beds and postpone elective surgeries.
"Reviewing the prevailing Covid situation in the State with DCs, SSPs and other senior health officials. There is an increasing surge of #Covid19 cases in Punjab. It is important that we all strictly follow wearing of masks and observe other safety precautions to save lives," tweeted Punjab CM today.
Dr KK Talwar, who heads the state government's expert team on Covid, said the state currently has almost 40 per cent cases from the under 30 population. (ANI)