Bihar govt imposes restrictions due to COVID resurgence; all- party meeting soon

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Patna, Apr 9 (PTI) Considering a spike in COVID cases in Bihar along with other parts of the country, the state government on Friday decided that all shops and commercial establishments will function till 7 pm, while schools, colleges and coaching centres will remain shut for another one week till April 18.

   Announcing the decisions, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said an all-party meeting, as advised by Governor Phagu Chauhan, will be convened soon to seek their suggestions on how to check the spread of the infection more effectively in the state besides regulating political activities in the light of spiralling coronavirus cases.

   Shops and commercial establishments will remain open across the state till 7 pm by the end of this month and all the coronavirus protocols have to be followed.

(Photo by Deepak Gupta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
(Photo by Deepak Gupta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

  This time, the restrictions will not be applicable on hotels, restaurants and dhabas, but these establishments also need to adhere to the COVID safety guidelines, Principal Secretary, Health, Pratyaya Amrit told reporters in the presence of Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Tarkishore Prasad and Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Singh.

Kumar, who had on Thursday attended a meeting of chief ministers with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the COVID-19 situation, told reporters that the state government will ramp up the vaccination drive between April 11 and 14.

He said efforts would be made to vaccinate nearly four lakh eligible beneficiaries daily on these four days.

Asserting that there is no shortage of vaccines in the state, Amrit said, 'We received nine lakh doses today. In view of intensifying the inoculation process from April 11 to 14, we will request the Centre to provide an additional supply of vaccines.' Though the COVID-19 situation is not as alarming as in some other states, the number of cases in Bihar is rising, and a decision has been made to take measures for containing the spread of the disease.

The chief minister said the number of sample tests, which had gone down in view of an improvement in the situation earlier, has been increased substantially, and now it is almost touching one lakh daily.

The opening of schools, colleges, coaching centres was deferred by a week till April 11 earlier in the light of resurgence in COVID cases, will remain shut till April 18, Amrit said.

The chief minister said an all-party meeting will be called in another 6-8 days, to discuss the situation with leaders of the political parties and seek their cooperation to manage the sudden spike of COVID cases more effectively.

  Asked whether political parties will put a curb on their activities, Kumar said the outfits should regulate their programmes adhering to COVID appropriate behaviour.

     'We will talk more on the issue in the all-party meeting,' he added.

   Giving details of other restrictions planned by the state at a high-level meeting chaired by the chief minister on the COVID situation, the principal secretary of the health department said restaurants can function only with 25 per cent of their capacity till April 30. Similarly, cinema halls can operate up to 50 per cent of their sitting capacity.

  The government offices should run with a 33 per cent workforce daily till April 30, but this will not be applicable on establishments involved in the delivery of essential services like fire brigade, police, post offices and banks among others.

  Likewise, there could be a maximum attendance of 50 people during the conduct of last rites, while gathering of up to 200 has been allowed in social functions, Amrit said.

  Since migrant workers are arriving in Bihar from states where the COVID situation is alarming, it has been decided to conduct coronavirus tests on all the passengers at railway stations.

Those who will test positive will be put in isolation centres while the government will allow others to go home with advice to follow COVID regulations.

Asked for his opinion on the raging debate in the country whether the export of vaccines should be stopped and all people of the country, even those below 45 years of age, be given the jab, Kumar said the state was following the guidelines provided by the Centre in this regard.

  The chief minister reaffirmed that the state would help returnees to earn livelihoods, besides increasing man- days under MGNREGA scheme.

Efforts have been made to help such people do some meaningful economic activities here so that 'they need not go outside out of 'majboori' (compulsion)'.

Kumar supported a proposal for vaccination of journalists like health and frontline workers as they have been also at the risk in the course of their work.

The chief minister said he is taking the stock of the COVID situation daily. PTI SNS BDC BDC