Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today extended curfew by two weeks after May 3, though he announced relaxation in the lockdown from Thursday in the non-containment and non-red zones. This means that the lockdown in the state will continue till May 17.
The relaxation is for four hours from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. every day. It is contingent upon adherence to the Covid-19 safety protocols.
The state government took the decision on the recommendations of an expert committee that was constituted to chalk out the state's exit strategy. The inputs received from various sections of society were also taken into account, the Chief Minister said.
Addressing the people of the state, the Chief Minister said the situation will be reviewed after two weeks and further relaxations will be announced thereafter if the pandemic remains in control. Certain shops will be allowed to remain open in certain areas by rotation for four hours every morning, with 50 per cent staff strength and social distancing.
All those stepping out during the relaxation period would have to wear masks and maintain a two metres distance from others, the Chief Minister said, adding the relief has been provided only for the convenience of the people and should not be used for interactions with friends, etc.
In urban areas, all stand-alone shops, neighborhood shops, and shops in residential complexes are allowed to open during this period. E-commerce companies will continue to be permitted to deal in essential goods only during this period.
Singh said that his government was keen let industry open up.
He also expressed concern over the large number of Punjabis stranded in other states because of the lockdown. They will be brought back but would be quarantined for 21 days, the Chief Minister said. Quarantine arrangements are ready in all district, he added.
The problem in the state got aggravated because of the arrival of a large number of NRIs, followed by the attendees of the Nizamuddin event, he said.
It was necessary to check the pandemic, which has infected 330 people in the state.
With various experts offering different views, the coronavirus crisis could continue till July-August, or even September, said Singh.
(With agency inputs).