Northeastern states begin phased relaxation of lockdown

Guwahati, Itanagar, Gangtok, Imphal May 4 (Correspondent) | Publish Date: 5/4/2020 9:24:25 AM IST

 More shops open in Assam after govt relaxes lockdown

After 40 days of strict restrictions, the Assam government on Monday relaxed coronavirus-triggered lockdown norms allowing more shops to open in the state.However, most of the outlets in the high-street areas kept their shutters down due to the numbering system that allows only one-third of the shops in a row to open on a particular day. A night curfew from 6 pm to 6 am has been clamped across Assam till May 17 to prevent gathering of people in the evening.

 The government has allowed standalone shops -- only one-third in a row -- to open in both urban and rural areas and the deputy commissioners held meetings with the market associations and commerce chambers in this regard on Monday morning.

As per the guidelines announced by health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday evening, if the first shop in a row is open on Monday, then the second and third will remain shut. On Tuesday, the first, third and fourth shops will be closed, and likewise.

As per the guidelines, all the shops barring pharmacies have to down their shutters at 5 pm, an hour before the curfew comes into effect.

 Markets across the state where numbering system is complete have started functioning while elsewhere, where the process is still on, the shops will open accordingly, officials said.

“The shops are being numbered now. By the end of the day, this numbering will be over and they (owners) can open the shops from tomorrow (Tuesday),” Jorhat deputy commissioner Roshni Aparanji Korati told PTI.

Nalbari deputy commissioner Bharat Bhushan Devchoudhury said they have allowed only those shops to open where numbering has been completed.

 “We are also restricting the movement of e-rickshaws. We have numbered them and implemented the odd-even scheme for that. This is done to dissuade the public to come out without a reason,” he added.

In some areas of the state capital, long traffic jams were witnessed during morning office hours with people coming out in after more than a month in their own vehicles.

 City buses, intra-district and inter-district buses started operating with 50 per cent capacity, but they will not be allowed to ply in red and orange zones.

Standalone liquor shops have already opened from Saturday and long queues were seen at almost all outlets in the state.

 To avail all the relaxations, wearing a mask is mandatory, failing which police will take action, Sarma had said. 

Arunachal: A number of shops apart from those selling essentital commodities opened along with offices in Arunachal Pradesh on Monday, as the country entered the third phase of the lockdown with more relaxations.

Liquor shops, pan and cigarette stalls and a few garment shops opened shutters in the state for the first time since the coronavirus-induced lockdown came into force in March, officials said.

People made a beeline in front of wine shops here from the early hours but many were left disappointed as outlets ran out of stock.

“We are not in a position to meet the requirement of every customer due to limited stock,” said Rinku Bora, owner of a wine shop at O Point Tinali here.

He, however, said things should normalise in the next few days.

Shops selling stationery items, cigarettes and betel leaves also witnessed queues since morning.

Officials said people adhered to all safety precautions, including social distancing and wearing of masks while visiting the shops.

Some government and private offices also started functioning with around 50 per cent staff.

Long queues were seen outside several bank branches at Itanagar, Naharlagun and Nirjuli, too.

“The state capital witnessed heavy traffic in the morning hours, especially in the Ganga area as people ventured out of their houses,” Capital SP Tumme Amo said.

The state cabinet has convened a meeting on Monday to discuss about the modalities during the third phase of the lockdown till May 17.

Sikkim: Shops and business establishments reopened on Monday in Sikkim as the authorities relaxed lockdown regulations in the state which is yet to report any positive coronavirus cases so far.

All shops, including those of liquor, did a brisk business as people rushed to various market places in the state capital and elsewhere in the Himalayan state.

The Sikkim government allowed shops to remain open till 4 PM from Monday, officials said.

In a circular issued on Sunday, the authorities directed shopkeepers and consumers to strictly follow the social distancing norm and use masks in public places.

There was, however, little movement of vehicles as the public and private vehicles have been barred from plying till mtotal lifting of the lockdown, officials said.

Sikkim is one of the few states to have reported no Covid-19 cases till date and all of its four districts are ‘green zones’. 

Manipur: Manipur began returning to normalcy on Monday after the government eased some lockdown restrictions, subsequent upon categorisation of the state as a green zone.

People are now allowed to return to work and moved out of their places after 40 days long strict lockdown to check spread of COVID-19 in the state.

Except the iconic all-women market and its adjoining market complexes in Imphal, all other market places in the capital city and its outskirts were opened from Monday. 

An order of the state home department allowed opening of shops and business establishment across the state from 6am till 4 pm every day, excluding the markets at three Ima Keithels (all-women run markets), Nagamapal and Ngari Galli in Imphal.

The iconic all-women markets remained close since March 21 last, five days ahead of the COVID-19 induced nationwide lockdown began from March 25.

Similarly, major market places in other districts of the state, particularly at the district headquarters were kept outside the purview of the relaxation. As such, these markets remained closed.

No relaxation was given for public transport including buses, taxis and auto rickshaws by the latest revised lockdown norms.

A shocking scene was witnessed today when many elderly turned up at State Bank of India (SBI) at MG Avenue standing in front of the bank without maintaining physical distancing.

They were waiting permission to enter the bank and withdraw their pension. According to the pensioners, they were restricted from entering the bank for reasons best known to the bank authority only. 

The elderly turned up as banks were also relaxed from the lockdown. 

As per the new guideline, inter-state buses for public transport and movement of individuals will continue to banned except as permitted by state home department. 

There will be relaxation in the inter-state movement of individuals for medical reasons or for essential activities with the permission of the state home department. (Correspondent) 

Meghalaya: Amid the COVID-19 lockdown, all government offices in Meghalaya have resumed functioning from Monday with 100 percent strength for group A and B officers.

However, in case any employee’s family members has severe acute respiratory infection and influenza-like illness symptoms or have recent travel history, he/she has been advised not to attend to office but to work from home, “Employee having symptoms of cough, fever and sore throat, or who have had any contact primary contacts recently should go for testing immediately,” he said.

Additional Chief Secretary for Personnel A.R. (A) Department, Rebecca Vanessa Suchiang said that all government offices in the state shall function at 100 percent strength for group A and B officers and 33 percent strength for group C and D staff with effect from Monday.

 In her order, Suchiang also directed the head of departments concerned to notify the roster of duty for group C and D staff.

Lunch time has also been staggered in government offices. The employees have also been directed to download the Aryogya Setu app. (Correspondent)

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