Dibrugarh: All commercial establishments, barring pharmacies, clinical establishments, grocery and essential item shops, petrol pumps, LPG outlets, printing press, and fish/meat/vegetable markets, remained closed on Monday after the district administration passed an order to this effect on March 22 as a precautionary measure against the spread and potential outbreak of COVID-19.
The measure was against mass gathering and crowd in public places, two ways through which the virus is believed to spread fast. The order, which came into force with immediate effect until further order, was issued under regulation 12 of The Assam COVID-19 Regulations 2020, and also invited punitive measures under IPC if violated. Hotels with lodging facilities, although previously left out, were later included in the list of entities exempted from the shutdown order. Also, the Dibrugarh Municipality was reported to have passed orders on Monday for the closure of two vegetable markets – on at Shantipara and the other below Thancharali Overbridge – for the next 15 days on the grounds of lack of hygiene and sanitation. The day also saw a fair amount of chaos and panic after unconfirmed news of a complete lockdown being declared by the State Government broke out. People made a scramble in the markets while trying to stock up essentials. Previously, the district administration had also appealed to the heads of the religious institutions/management committees to cooperate in this hour of crisis and discourage mass gatherings at all places of worship to contain COVID-19 from becoming an epidemic here.
On Sunday, responding to the call of the PM for a self-imposed 14- hour curfew, life came to a standstill here. All sections of the community observed the Janata Curfew, although it did not culminate the way it should have. In what was a letdown to a great initiative that was aimed at showing gratitude to and boosting the morale of those who were duty-bound to stay outdoors despite the looming threat, people came out in gatherings at various places across the town, brushing aside the virtue of social distancing. Some people also reported to bursting crackers and making merry in the evening under the false impression that the threat was over. The conscious citizens and the civil society here slammed such actions.