HP CM urges returnees to self-quarantine at home; shops, markets to close on weekends

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Shimla, Apr 20 (PTI) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Tuesday urged people returning to the hill state, especially from states with heavy COVID-19 caseloads, to self-quarantine at home, even as his government introduced curbs to contain the disease.

The Himachal Pradesh government issued an order in the evening reducing the work week for its employees from six days to five, while directing shops, malls, markets, gyms and commercial establishments to remain close on weekends till May 1.

The decision to urge returnees to self-quarantine comes amid reports that a number of Himachal Pradesh residents are coming back from other states, including Delhi and Maharashtra, after lockdowns were imposed there.

Talking to the media here, Thakur said his government had last year quarantined those returning from other states for up to 14 days.

The returnees should now either self-quarantine at their homes or get themselves tested for COVID-19 to contain the spread of the virus, the chief minister said.

The government order directing closure of all shops and markets in the state on Saturdays and Sundays till May 1 was issued by Chief Secretary cum State Executive Committee (SEC) Chairman Anil Khachi.

'All markets/shops/ commercial establishments including malls/ gyms/ sports complex/ swimming pools etc.shall remain closed on Saturdays & Sundays till 01.05.2021 except shops dealing with items of daily need such as fruits, vegetables, milk & milk products and other daily essential goods/ pharmacies etc,' it stated.

Restaurant, dhabas and hotels, however, can operate as per the SOP issued by the Department of Tourism, Khachi said.

'There will be total ban on entry of general public at large in the places of religious worship w.e.f. 23.04.2021,' the chief secretary said.

'However, the daily rituals or puja as per traditions will continue to be performed,' he added.

Meanwhile, the chief minister said government offices would be closed on Saturdays. They will operate from Mondays to Fridays with a strength of 50 per cent.

He said not more than 50 people would be allowed to take part in social gatherings, including marriages.

This will be applicable for both indoor and outdoor gatherings, he added. Earlier, 200 people were allowed for outdoor gatherings.

Political rallies will also not be held, Thakur said, adding that small meetings with less than 50 people can be organised.

The chief minister indicated that a decision on closure of religious places in the state might also be taken on April 23.

Devotees have been allowed to pay obeisance at temples only in view of the Navratras, he added.

All educational institutions schools, colleges, universities and coaching centres have already been ordered to stay closed upto May 1. PTI DJI IJT