Punjab: Stricter curfew, weekend lockdown introduced, as COVID-19 cases rise
The Punjab government on Thursday announced sweeping restrictions, including a stricter curfew, and weekend lockdowns in all of its 167 cities and towns across the state. The emergency measures have come as the northern state continues to witness massive spikes in its daily COVID-19 case counts. Thus far, Punjab has reported 37,824 COVID-19 cases, out of which 23,037 recovered while 957 died. Here's more.
Night curfew duration upped by two hours
The state government, led by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, has increased the daily night curfew duration by two hours. The curfew will now be in place from 7 pm to 5 am, instead of 9 pm to 5 am. Furthermore, a weekend lockdown in all 167 cities and towns has also been introduced. These rules will be applicable starting Friday.
Ban on all gatherings, except for weddings and funerals
As part of the fresh measures, the Chief Minister has also ordered a complete ban on all gatherings (except for weddings and funerals) till August 31, across the state. While making the announcement, the CM called for a "war-like preparedness" to deal with the situation.
More restrictions on vehicles and shops in worst-hit districts
In the five worst-affected districts (Amritsar, Ludhiana, SAS Nagar, Patiala and Jalandhar), restrictions on vehicular capacity have been re-imposed. Buses and other public transport shall operate with 50% occupancy and private four-wheelers shall not carry more than three passengers. Furthermore, only 50% of non-essential shops will be allowed to open to check crowding in these districts, that account for 80% of state's active caseload.
'Enough is enough,' CM Singh said about the situation
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister also directed the state police to ensure that all rules are complied with on the ground level. Singh also made a similar appeal to his own partymen. "Enough is enough," the CM said, noting that they need to be careful, but without affecting the state's economy. Singh noted the state was in an, "emergency health situation that necessitated harsh measures."
Punjab's rising COVID-19 cases
For the past few days, Punjab has been witnessing huge spikes in COVID-19 cases. On Wednesday, the state reported 1,693 new cases and 24 deaths, while on Thursday, a record 1,741 fresh cases and 37 more fatalities were reported.
The new measures are based on a recent sero-survey
These strict measures were announced based on a serological survey, conducted this month, in the five worst-hit districts. As per survey findings, a massive 27.7% of people in containment zones had been exposed to the virus. Amritsar had the highest exposure rate, with 40% of the population in containment zones testing positive, followed by Ludhiana (35.6%), SAS Nagar (33.2%), Patiala (19.2%) and Jalandhar (10.8%).