GUWAHATI: After enforcing the 40-day lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break the chain of fatal coronavirus, the Assam Government has announced several relaxations during the third phase of lockdown scheduled to commence from Monday.
The State is making relaxations since majority of its districts have fallen in the 'Green zone' of the country's COVID-19 map. Relaxations will not be applicable in the four 'Orange' districts namely Morigaon, Bongaigaon, Dhubri and Goalpara.
Addressing a press conference here on Sunday evening, Finance, Health and Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the prime objective of lockdown relaxations was to resume economic activities in the State with maximum cautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He, however, said that the State would strictly enforce the curfew from 6 pm to 6 am everyday till the third phase of lockdown ends on May 17. During the curfew period, people associated only with essential services will be allowed movement. These include pharmacies, fire, ambulance, and media.
"Even during relaxation of lockdown, the administration and police will be tough with those individuals and organization which do not adhere to norms of wearing face masks and maintaining social distance. Barring medical emergencies persons who are 65 and above and children below 12 years will not be allowed to come out from their homes," Sarma said.
Announcing the lockdown relaxations, Sarma said private hospitals, doctors clinics, private labs and organizations associated with healthcare with human and animals would reopen from Monday. But these organizations will have to close their shutters by 5 pm, he said.
While all standalone shops in Guwahati and all other districts included in green zone of the COVID-19 map will reopen, one third of shops situated along G.S. Road, GNB Road and other arterial roads will be allowed to operate. Citing an example of the system of reopening shops along GS Road and other main roads, Sarma said if the first shop on a row is opened then the second and third ones will remain closed. After the second and third shops, the fourth shop will open. But Sarma said that if in a row the second and third shops happen to be grocery and medicine shops then all the four shops will be allowed to open.
Only bars, barber shops, saloons, beauty parlours will not be allowed to reopen. Sarma, however, said that barbers and beauticians can visit residences of citizens for haircuts, shaving and other beauty enhancing acts.
While all bookshops will reopen, shopping malls and market complexes will remain closed. Weekly vegetable and fish markets will remain closed. Restaurants, sweet shops, tea stalls and ice cream parlours will reopen on condition that customers cannot sit there to have their foods. Customers will be able to take away their foods from the restaurants. Online food services such as Swiggy will also operate from Monday.
Sarma added that autorickshaws, cycle rickshaws, taxis and Ola and Uber cabs would be allowed to operate on condition that vehicles must carry only three persons including the driver. Buses will operate in Guwahati and other districts with 50 per cent passengers. Barring women and children below 12-years of age pillion riding will not be allowed. All kinds of construction activities will resume with 50 per cent workforce.
The Minister further said that government and private offices will operate from Monday with 50 per cent employees. Women employees who have children below 5 years need not come to the offices. All kinds of e-commerce activities will resume.
Sarma also said that in view of the swine flu that has infected pig population in the State, vehicles with animals from other districts will not be allowed to make an entry to the district.
Since Assam on Sunday opened its borders with other north-eastern States to allow its stranded people to return home, 900 persons from Meghalaya, 1000 from Arunachal Pradesh, 312 from Tripura, 60 from Manipur, 50 from Mizoram and 15 from Nagaland entered the State. Sarma, however, clarified that during the ongoing lockdown the people from the other NE States cannot come to Assam. At the same time, the people of Assam cannot visit the other NE States.