Assam issues guidelines to check spread of coronavirus

In view of spiraling COVID-19 cases in Assam, the state government on Tuesday ordered to shut all markets and shops y 6 pm and permitted 50 per cent of non-officer staff to work from home in the districts where there are 100 active cases or more.

Issuing a fresh set of guidelines, the Assam chief secretary Jishnu Barua ordered the deputy commissioners to strictly enforce the restrictions, which have been promulgated along with several penal provisions under various laws.

“Any person not wearing face mask and/or spitting in public places shall be fined to the tune of Rs 1,000,” the order said.

Violations of the guidelines will attract penalty under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, IPC and other provisions.

“Our situation is not so alarming at this moment, it is still under control. But we can’t say what will be the situation in the next 7-8 days,” Barua said at a press conference here.

He said that after reviewing the situation and observing that there is a gradual increase in COVID-19 cases, the government has decided to implement the latest order with immediate effect and keep it in place till April 30.

“We will review the situation in the next 3-4 days and if the cases continue to rise, then we will come out with stricter guidelines,” he added.

As per the guidelines all markets, malls, weekly bazaars and standalone shops other than pharmacies will have to down shutters by 6 pm.

“Except officers, only 50 per cent employees can work from office … Pregnant women employees and women with children of five years or below irrespective of their grade shall be allowed to work from home,” the order said.

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However, this will not be applicable for organisations providing essential and emergency services, law enforcement services and are engaged in election work.

Assam State Disaster Management Authority chief executive officer Gyanendra Tripathi said the order will be applicable in only those districts which have 100 or more active COVID-19 patients.

At present, 13 out of 33 districts in Assam have 100 or more active positive cases, a National Health Mission spokesperson said.

The order further said that gatherings in open spaces have been capped at 50 per cent or 400 persons, whichever is lower, while it will be 50 per cent in closed venues.

“Number of guests in private functions at private venues, including marriages to be restricted to 100 persons.

Funeral/last rites related gatherings should ensure not more than 20 persons for each deceased,” it added.

Religious places can allow 20 persons per hour, while in the “iconic” places 50 persons can be allowed in an hour, the guideline stated.

In case of educational institutes not more than 50 per cent students can attend in person on any day and the schools should stagger class timings so that no large gathering of students takes place.

The order asked schools to opt for the online mode of teaching and said the education department will issue detailed guidelines in view of the COVID-19 precautionary measures.

On transportation, the order said all public commercial buses have been allowed to ply with only 50 per cent capacity and no passenger will be allowed to travel standing inside the vehicle.

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All other activities, shops, industrial units and tea gardens have been allowed to operate subject to adherence to COVID-19 “appropriate behaviour”.

Assam Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said police will strictly enforce the order and if necessary, will use force against the violators.

The state reported seven more deaths due to coronavirus on Monday. The number of COVID-19 cases rose sharply with 1,367 persons tested positive, pushing the total number of infections to 2,25,822, state health department sources said.

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