Odisha announces weekend shutdown in 10 districts with high COVID-19 cases

Bhubaneswar, Jun 30 () With a surge in COVID-19 fatalities and infections in Odisha in June, the state government Tuesday announced weekend shutdown in 10 districts with high active caseloads, to prevent crowding during the easing of lockdown.

The districts are: Ganjam, Gajapati, Khurda, Cuttack, Jajpur, Jagatsinghpur, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Jharsuguda.

They all have more than 50 active coronavirus cases, Chief Secretary A K Tripathy told reporters here, adding they have been categorised as Zone-1 and the shutdown will be applicable on Saturdays and Sundays.

A day after the Centre unveiled unlock 2.0 guidelines, he said that schools, colleges, coaching centres and other educational institutions in the state will remain shut for teaching purposes till August 31. Advertisement

However, theatres, cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, bars, auditoriums and assembly halls will be closed till July 31, Tripathy said.

Local authorities such as district collectors and municipal bodies have been empowered to impose further restrictions like lockdown beyond weekend shutdown in the 10 districts named above.

The state has 30 districts.
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Local authorities have also been empowered to restrict intra-district movement of private or public vehicles in these 10 districts.

The decision to continue with the weekend shutdown as a weapon to combat the coronavirus pandemic seems to have been prompted by over a three-fold increase in COVID-19 positive cases in June, as compared to May. While the number of cases stood at 1,948 and deaths at seven by the end of May, positive cases have now climbed to 7,065 and fatalities to 25. Advertisement

Essential activities of police, fire service, medical care, petrol pumps, chemist shops, electricity and water supply, agriculture and IT sectors will be allowed during the weekend shutdown to facilitate economic operations, he said.

Odisha's COVID-19 fatality rate is among the lowest in the country at 0.35 per cent, Tripathy said, adding the national average is 2.98 per cent.

The COVID-19 discharge rate in the state is highest in the country as patients are getting cured faster because of the massive physical infrastructure put in place in the state well in advance, he said. Advertisement

New strategies for fighting the disease in the state have been prepared by striking a balance between life and livelihood, the top official said.

"Odisha's model of fighting through community empowerment and participation has proved successful till today. In the current phase of the fight, the community and the people will be frontline warriors," Tripathy said.

The chief secretary said, night curfew will remain in force across the state between 9 pm and 5 am everyday through July. Movement of vehicles will be prohibited during the curfew period and the restrictions will be strictly enforced. Advertisement

As efforts are on to facilitate economic activities, movement of people engaged in industrial and construction activities, doctors, medical personnel, police, chemist shops, power, fire services and media will be allowed.

Taxis, auto-rickshaws and cab aggregators will be allowed to operate to and from airports and railway stations to enable people returning to the state to reach their destinations, he said.

Religious places will be closed for visitors, while social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural, religious functions and other large congregations will continue to be prohibited, Tripathy said Advertisement

Referring to public transport systems, he said, though train and air services will be exempt from the shutdown, the state government has urged the Centre to restrict flights and trains from COVID-19 hot spots, he said.

Hotels will operate with limited occupancy but their restaurants will serve only in-house requirements, he said. Home delivery and takeaways will be allowed. Mentioning that the state will stick to its 14-day quarantine policy, Tripathy said, clear instructions have been issued to sarpanches and collectors to ensure 100 per cent compliance of quarantine norms and they have been able to successfully achieve it. Advertisement

There will be zero tolerance towards people not wearing masks and violating social-distancing norms, the chief secretary said.

Spitting in public will also invite stringent action and shops will be liable for any violation of physical distance guidelines, he said.

Similarly, the head of institutions will be held accountable for any violation of these guidelines in government and other offices, he said. Advertisement

Work from home is also being encouraged as part of measures to contain the spread of the virus.

Noting that over 8.5 lakh migrants have returned to the state from different parts of the country so far, he said, more than seven lakh of them have been discharged after successful completion of quarantine at various centres. SKN MM TIR TIR
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