Deserted roads in Northen hill town shimla during nationwide "janata curfew" in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, Shimla on Sunday. Express Photo by Pradeep Kumar)
Himachal Pradesh came to a standstill as it observed the 'janata curfew' called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday. City centres and marketplaces of Shimla, Dharamshala, Manali and other towns and villages were deserted, devoid of traffic and commercial activity.
“Getting ample support from the public in making thejJanata curfew a success but in some places, some people are coming out on the roads without any reason. I request you all to please support the government in making the curfew a success till 7 am tomorrow (Monday)," tweeted Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur Sunday afternoon.
'Daily wage labourers should be given free ration'
State Congress president Kuldeep Singh Rathore demanded a "complete lockdown" of the state on the lines of other states like Punjab, Odisha and Maharashtra. "But this must be done after ensuring an adequate supply of essential goods," he added.
He also appealed to the state government to announce a special financial package for those who have been affected the most by the outbreak, including daily wage labourers, farmers and traders. "Daily wage labourers must be provided free ration from PDS outlets till the crisis is over. Farmers and horticulturists will be deeply affected by the shutdown of markets which is scheduled to go on for two more days. They must be compensated," he said.
Budget session to be postponed
Meanwhile, the ongoing Budget session of the State Legislative Assembly, which was scheduled to continue from Monday after a week-long recess, will be indefinitely postponed following a sitting of one hour on Monday, said Vidhan Sabha private secretary Hari Ram.
Entry of outsiders banned
On Saturday evening, the CM said the state government has banned entry of foreign and domestic nationals in the state. The ban was earlier limited to tourists.
Meanwhile, district authorities in Kangra stepped up vigil in areas where two positive COVID-19 cases were reported on Friday. Notices were also put up outside the houses of the patients to warn area residents, as the two patients had earlier jumped quarantine. Both patients are stable, health officials said.
Govt orders lockdown of Kangra district
The state government has ordered a lockdown of Kangra district, where two patients are suffering from COVID-19. All transport, commercial and other operations are now barred in the district except those which involve the manufacture, transport, and sale of essential commodities such as food, milk, medicines, soaps etc. Departments and offices providing essential services such as health, fire, police, banks, media, electricity etc. will also continue to function.
"Keeping in view the large influx of persons from other countries and states and confirmation of COVID-19 in persons belonging to Kangra district, it is imperative that strict measures be taken with immediate effect...Under clause 3 of the Himachal Pradesh Epidemic Disease (COVID-19) Regulations, 2020, framed under the Epidemic Diseases Act, the state hereby notifies a lockdown in the revenue district of Kangra with immediate effect," said an order by chief secretary AK Khachi issued with the CM's approval.
People in the district are required to stay at home and come out for only basic/essential purposes and all foreign returnees who landed in India after March 9 are required to observe strict home quarantine, the order said.
Siren boosts morale
A siren is sounded in Shimla at 5 pm every working day to signal the end of the work day -- a practice started during the British era. On Sunday, the siren was sounded as part of the Janata Curfew morale booster, intermingling with claps and sounds of traditional brass trumpets, bells, fire-crackers and utensils resonating across the city.