Punjab extends Covid restrictions till September 30

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday ordered extension of the existing Covid-19 restrictions till September 30, in view of the upcoming festival season, with a limit of 300 on all gatherings, including political, and strict enforcement of wearing of masks as well as social distancing.

He also made it mandatory for organisers, including political parties, to ensure that participants, management and staff at food stalls, etc., in festival related events are fully vaccinated, or at least have had a single dose.

Calling for continued vigil in the light of the festivals, the Chief Minister urged all political parties to lead by example, while directing the DGP to ensure compliance of restrictions by all.

DGP Dinkar Gupta said with the case load decreasing, people had started being lax about wearing masks, which the Health Department should strictly enforce with the help of the police.

Amarinder Singh also directed Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan to make joint administration-police flying squads in each district to ensure compliance at restaurants, marriage palaces etc.

Chairing a virtual Covid review meeting, the Chief Minister directed the Department of Social Security to prepare to open Anganwari Centres within this month.

The opening of these centres will be subject to vaccination of staff and other guidelines to be worked out jointly with the Health Department.

The Chief Minister also ordered increase in testing from the current 45,000 per day to at least 50,000 per day as part of the preparations for the possible third wave.

Along with sentinel testing, outreach camps and testing should be taken up, especially where public gathering is expected to take place on account of the festival season, he directed, adding that all infrastructure augmentation work should be expedited and completed.

Pointing out that the GIS-based surveillance and prevention tool with an auto trigger mechanism for localised restrictions was now live in all districts, Amarinder Singh directed the Health Department to take micro-containment measures using these tools for areas or localities where cases are more than five.

K.K. Talwar, head of the state’s Covid expert committee, said while the situation currently was under control, there was need to prepare for the third wave, and also for the upcoming festival season.

He urged the Chief Minister to appeal to all religious organizations to make regular announcements from temples and gurdwaras for wearing of masks.

Market committees should be asked to do the same in view of the crowds expected in markets, he suggested, adding that shopkeepers and their staff should also be tested more aggressively on account of the festival season.