Punjab extends Covid curbs till Jun 15, allows shops to open till 6 pm

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Chandigarh, Jun 7 (PTI) The Punjab government on Monday announced to extend the Covid restrictions till June 15 but also gave relaxations including allowing shops to open till 6 pm while adopting a graded approach to reopening.

Night curfew will now remain in force from 7 pm to 6 am on weekdays, including Saturdays, but weekend curfew will continue on Sundays, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh announced.

Earlier, the weekend curfew was imposed on Saturdays and Sundays.

With case positivity declining to 3.2 per cent and active cases also coming down, the CM allowed gatherings of up to 20 people, including at weddings and cremations, according to a government statement.

Entry restrictions (negative Covid test/vaccination) for arrivals in the state have also been done away with, he stated after a Covid review meeting.

Recruitment exams will be allowed to be held subject to adherence to social distancing and other Covid appropriate norms, the CM said, but added that online mode should be preferred.

Sports training for national and international events have also been permitted and the department of Sports and Youth Affairs has been asked to issue the necessary instructions and guidelines, which shall have to be strictly adhered to.

The district administration may determine opening of non-essential shops, including on weekends, on the basis of local situation, while ensuring that crowding leading to spread of Covid are avoided.

Private offices can function at 50 per cent strength. On government offices, he said attendance can be decided by the head of the concerned office but comorbid/disabled employees at risk may be exempted.

Further relaxations will be allowed in the coming weeks depending on the outcomes, if the cases continue to decline, Singh said, adding that gyms and restaurants could be opened after a week with 50 per cent, and other conditions according to experts' advice, if the situation improves further.

Owners and workers of gyms and restaurants should get themselves vaccinated prior to the reopening, he added.

The state government had imposed extensive curbs, in addition to measures like a weekend lockdown and a night curfew to check the spread of the infection.

The state government had earlier extended Covid curbs till June 10.

Meanwhile, the CM also announced full credit of earned leave in lieu of cancelled vacations of the medical college faculty while taking cognisance of their exceptional commitment and hard work to fight against the Covid pandemic for the past more than one year.

The medical college faculty have not been able to avail their summer and winter vacation during the pandemic period, and would have been deprived of this facility, the CM pointed out.

These faculty members need to be compensated for their service and sacrifice, he said, adding that the government had decided to give them full credit against their 30 days of annual earned leave period against their cancelled vacation periods.

Singh also asked senior officials to explore other incentives for healthcare workers as a token of the state government's appreciation.

For better management of cases, the CM asked the departments to reduce the taken to receive COVID-19 test results.

Post-Covid complications should be studied carefully for better preparation to handle those, he said, citing the example of Milkha Singh, popularly known as 'Flying Sikh', who was discharged after Covid recovery but had to be hospitalised again.

He said he had been informed that 20 per cent of patients in hospitals in Patiala are similar cases of recovered patients being readmitted. PTI CHS VSD CK