Punjab Lockdown Last Date: State wants longer lockdown to curtail corona

Before the Cabinet meeting, the chief minister said the state was witnessing the second stage of community transmission, as most of the 27 cases reported on Thursday did not have a travel history.

It said that chief minister Amarinder Singh will convey the decision to the Prime Minister Saturday.
It said that chief minister Amarinder Singh will convey the decision to the Prime Minister Saturday.

By Kanchan Vasdev

SETTING THE stage for the Prime Minister’s video-conference Saturday with chief ministers to discuss exit strategies after the 21-day national coronavirus lockdown period ends on April 14, Punjab became the second state after Odisha to announce that it would extend the restrictions till the month-end. Punjab was among the early states to impose a lockdown on March 22, two days before the central government imposed restrictions nationwide to contain the outbreak.

Odisha announced its move formally Thursday, after multiple states indicated to the central government that they wanted the lockdown to be extended. While Odisha had signalled that the curbs after April 14 could be less stringent in rural areas to facilitate farm activities, officials in Punjab said the state would start procuring wheat from April 15 under strict conditions of social distancing. The state is expecting a bumper yield of 135 lakh metric tonnes.

The Cabinet decision was taken to check community spread and prevent overcrowding at agriculture mandis, a government statement said. It said that chief minister Amarinder Singh will convey the decision to the Prime Minister Saturday. Announcing the decision, the CM’s media advisor Raveen Thukral posted on Twitter: “Punjab cabinet led by @capt_amarinder decides to extend lockdown/curfew in the state till May 1, 2020.”

In other key decisions, officials said, the Chief Minister told the Cabinet, which met through a video-conference, that he would request former Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia to help the state devise a strategy to revive its economy after the Covid-19 crisis is over. With the state’s case count reaching 151 on Friday, a jump of 21 within the last 24 hours, the Cabinet also approved the Punjab Clinical Establishment (Registration and Regulation) Ordinance 2020, to enable private hospitals to treat coronavirus cases.

Before the Cabinet meeting, the chief minister said the state was witnessing the second stage of community transmission, as most of the 27 cases reported on Thursday did not have a travel history. The state government also decided to set up a multi-disciplinary task force to formulate an exit strategy for “gradual relaxation” of the lockdown, and submit its report within 10 days. The new Ordinance, meanwhile, will provide for registration and regulation of private clinical establishments to ensure compliance with protocols.

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