PATNA: Lockdown was imposed in Bihar till May 15 amid a surge in COVID-19 cases with the state facing a positivity rate of around 10 per cent, officials said on Tuesday.
The decision for the lockdown, which will come into effect on Wednesday, was taken at the meeting of the Crisis Management Group presided over by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, they said.
Soon after the meeting, the chief minister announced the decision, following which Chief Secretary Tripurari Sharan along with senior police and administration officers held a press conference to announce the modalities.
The chief secretary said that all government and private offices will remain closed during the period.
However, essential services such as civil defence, electricity supply, water supply, fire services, veterinary work, postal and telecommunication will continue to operate.
Hospitals, medical laboratories, ambulance services and other health-related outlets have been kept out of the ambit of the lockdown.
Principal Secretary of Health, Pratyaya Amrit, clarified that the vaccination drive will continue during the lockdown.
Banking, ATMs and insurance services have been kept out of the purview of the lockdown.
Industrial and construction work, besides agricultural activities, e-commerce and courier services have also been exempted.
Operations of print and electronic media have also been allowed during the period.
Petrol pumps, LPG and outlets connected with retail services of petroleum products will also continue to operate.
The shops dealing with grocery items and retail outlets dealing with vegetables, fruits, non-veg items, milk and PDS outlets will remain open from 7 am to 11 am daily during the lockdown, the chief secretary said.
Schools, colleges and private coaching centres will remain completely shut during the lockdown, Sharan said, adding that no examination will be held during the period.
Religious places will also remain closed during the period.
Cinema halls, parks, gyms and hosting of other functions have been suspended during the lockdown.
Though the movement of vehicles has been prohibited, public transport for the passengers heading to railway stations, airports, and bus terminuses will be allowed with 50 per cent sitting capacity, the chief secretary said.
Restaurants and hotels will remain closed but home delivery has been allowed, he said, adding that similar is the norm for dhabas and eateries along the highways.
Weddings are allowed with only 50 guests but the use of DJs and taking out 'barat' processions are prohibited.
The chief secretary said an advance notice of three days has to be given to the local police station regarding weddings.
For the performance of the last rites and 'shradh', not more than 20 people will be allowed.
The chief secretary informed that all the districts have been ordered to organise community kitchens to feed the needy.
He said the ration card holders will be given allotted foodgrains from PDS shops free in the month of May, the cost of which will be borne by the state government.
He said the lockdown has been promulgated under relevant sections of the Disaster Management Act and those violating the orders will be punished accordingly.
The Patna High Court had on Monday came down heavily on the state government over handling the second wave of the pandemic.
It had asked Advocate General Lalit Kishore to talk to the chief minister on the urgent need of the lockdown.
Bihar had reported 11,407 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and 82 more deaths.
Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Chaitanya Prasad told reporters that Nitish Kumar held a detailed discussion with deputy chief ministers Tarkishore Prasad and Renu Devi, and Health Minister Mangal Pandey, among others on Monday night.
The chief minister also crisscrossed the state capital for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation, he said.
The health secretary said the state witnessed 10 per cent positivity rate over the last one week and the department will monitor whether this is coming down during the lockdown.
He further said, the state government will launch a mass recruitment drive for hiring medicos and will conduct walk-in interviews to add to the strength of the doctors and paramedical staff.
Regarding the availability of medical oxygen, Amrit said the state is procuring them from other states and the Centre has also assured to provide sufficient stock of medical oxygen in the next three-four days.