CHANDIGARH: Punjab Government orders shutdown of all non-essential services and businesses with immediate effect till March 31 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh tweeted, "Ordered statewide lock down till March 31 to check spread of #Covid19. All essential government services will continue & shops selling essential items such as milk, food items, medicines, etc will be open. All DCs & SSPs have been directed to implement the restrictions immediately."
High placed sources said all the Deputy Commissioners and SSPs have been directed to issue relevant orders and implement the restrictions immediately.
Only police, health, power, emergency transport services will be allowed besides supply of essential items such as milk, food items and medicines.
Today, all roads and public places in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh were deserted due to the 14-hour long Janta Curfew proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to counter the spread of coronavirus - as part of a social distancing exercise to help break the chain of transmission.
As one could hardly see any vehicles on roads even in popular areas like Sukhna Lake, even the Sector 17 plaza remained empty in Chandigarh. Markets were closed except for chemist shops.
Yesterday late evening six districts of Punjab had ordered lockdowns for the next few days - Jalandhar, Patiala, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Bathinda and Nawanshahr - as coronavirus cases in the state touched 14.
Late night meeting
In a late night meeting the Punjab Government deployed senior IAS officers for better inter departmental coordination.
While reviewing the preparedness plan with all the Deputy Commissioners through video conferencing on late Saturday night for the containment of Coronavirus, Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh emphasised on further fortifying the district control rooms and issued directives to make these functional from 6 am to 10 pm in the two 8-hourly shifts. He also suggested that police control rooms could also be utilised for this purpose, if found suitable.
He asked the DCs, SSPs and Chief Medical Officers to take stock of the situation on a daily basis at 10 am. Daily briefing by one designated Doctor and PRO on current status must be held around 4-5 pm. Similarly, briefing by DC, SSP and CMO in case of an important event would also be held.
All data, compendium of instructions properly and in electronic format must be maintained while the nationwide lockdown on Sunday would also be implemented without coercion and no criminal action on any defiance should be initiated.
He pointed out that this could be a good precursor to similar restrictions that may be imposed later in coming days. Singh also directed DCs to ensure strict implementation of ban on gatherings having more than 20 persons. The direction of two weeks off (by roster) to Government Group B, C, D staff to work on alternate fortnights must be meticulously followed.
He however, clarified that these directions would not apply to the critical departments. Casual employees including contractual or outsourcing to be compensated even in the forced off period while DCs may draft services of any employee, if necessary, for assistance.
He further stated that from Monday shops, establishments selling non-essential goods to be closed and asked the district administration for advance liaison with association.
Whereas, the supply lines of all essential items including milk, food, vegetables and fruits, medicines, would be regularly reviewed.
He emphasised on the need of Home Quarantine to be strictly enforced, which is the key to containment of COVID-19 as the centre has mandated quarantine for all foreign travellers from March 16.
The list of all foreign travellers would be re-verified for home quarantine. There would be stickers pasted outside homes of those quarantined to let the neighbours be aware.
He also underscored the need to observe proper isolation at home from family members too especially the elderly and people with co-morbidity in particular.
The DCs should also appoint a Sector Officer (as in elections) over a group of 8 to 10 villages to oversee home quarantine and to send a daily report to the control room.