(Adding detail) Patna, May 31 (PTI) The Nitish Kumar government in Bihar on Monday extended the lockdown till June 08 but eased many restrictions, relieved over the decline in intensity of the COVID-19 second wave which has killed thousands and infected lakhs of people in the state.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the high-powered crisis management committee, chaired by the Chief Minister, which decided to continue with the lockdown, effective till Tuesday, for another week.
'In view of the corona outbreak, a decision has been taken to extend the lockdown by a week, till june 08. However, some extra concessions will be made for business activities.
'People are requested to wear masks and maintain social distancing', Kumar tweeted in Hindi soon after the meeting.
As per the revised guidelines, notified by the state Home department, which would come into effect from June 02, shops dealing in essential items like grocery, vegetables, dairy products, meat and fish, will be allowed to do business from 06 oclock in the morning to 2oclock in the afternoon.
Earlier, these were allowed to remain open only for four hours, from 06 A.M. to 10 A.M.
In addition, all other shops which had hitherto been ordered shut, will be allowed to do business on alternate days and the respective District Magistrates shall be authorized to take a call on the roster for different categories of commercial establishments.
At a press conference where he spelt out the new guidelines in presence of other top officials, Additional Chief Secretary of Home department Chaitanya Prasad said 'all shopkeepers shall ensure availability of sanitisers for use by themselves and the customers.
'Social distancing should be enforced by drawing of white circles on the ground in which people would stand while waiting their turn'.
Failure to comply with these directions would invite penal action. The shopkeepers may be booked under relevant laws and debarred from running their stores, Prasad said.
Shopping malls, cinema halls, gyms, stadiums, clubs and swimming pools will, however remain closed.
Religious places will continue to remain shut and so will be schools/colleges/coaching institutes.
Restrictions on the number of people who could attend weddings and funerals remain unaltered at 20.
Curbs on vehicular traffic which entail public transport vehicles running with not more than 50 per cent capacity and privately owned ones plying only after obtaining passes, also remain in place.
Prasad also told journalists, 'District Magistrates have been authorised to put additional restrictions in place if warranted by corona situation in their respective areas of jurisdiction. They, however, cannot bring in any relaxations on their own'.
The fresh guidelines also allow all government offices to remain open till 4 P.M. 'with not more than 25 per cent attendance', but the same concession has not been extended to private establishments.
Lockdown was first clamped on May 05 after the state was left gasping with an explosive rise in the incidence of COVID 19 which had caused its active caseload to exceed one lakh.
The same has now dropped below 20,000, a point underscored in the home departments notification with an obvious sense of relief.
Having remained relatively less affected by the pandemic last year, Bihar was rattled by the devastating second wave which has caused its death toll to rise by nearly 5,000 and the overall tally to increase by more than five lakhs since the beginning of April.
The state has lost many of its distinguished personalities, from various walks of life, to the latest wave of the contagion which has wrought havoc across the country.
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