CHANDIGARH: With cases of the Delta Plus variant of Covid-19 surfacing in Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday extended the Covid restrictions till July 10, with certain more relaxations, including the opening of bars and pubs at 50%t capacity beginning July 1.
Skill development centres and universities have also been allowed to open conditional to the staff and students having taken at least one dose of the Covid vaccine. IELTS coaching institutes were already allowed to open, subject to students and staff having taken at least one dose of the vaccine.
Announcing the relaxations at a high-level Covid review meeting, the Chief Minister made it clear that bars and pubs would have to strictly maintain social distancing protocols, and waiters, servers, and other employees should have taken at least one dose of the Covid vaccine.
He made it clear that it would be the responsibility of the owners to ensure that the conditions are met.
Expressing satisfaction over the decline in the Covid positivity rate to less than 1%, along with an overall fall in the number of active cases, the Chief Minister noted that the positivity rate in some districts still remained over the 1% mark.
Further, the finding of the Delta Plus variant is a matter of concern, making it essential to continue with the curbs, Amarinder Singh said.
Two cases -- in Ludhiana and Patiala -- have shown the Delta Plus variant, while in May and June, the Delta variant was most prevalent, he pointed out.
Of the 198 contacts of the Ludhiana patient traced and tested, one was found positive and the sample has been sent for genome sequencing. In the Patiala case, for which the genome sequencing report was received on June 26, the process of tracing and testing is going on.
Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan disclosed that genome sampling reports of as many as 489 samples, including 276 sent in April, 100 in May, and 113 in June, are still pending with the central lab.
She also clarified that the Delta Plus variant was found in samples sent by the state government in May, whose results were submitted by the central labs recently.
Health Minister Balbir Sidhu suggested a close watch on visitors from countries reporting Delta Plus variant cases.