Punjab govt orders fresh curbs, shuts educational institutions to check COVID surge

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Chandigarh, Mar 19 (PTI) Amid a surge in coronavirus cases in Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has ordered massive state-wide restrictions beginning Saturday which include closing of all educational institutions till the end of the month and restrictions on cinema and mall capacities. The chief minister on Friday also appealed to the people to keep social activity in their homes to the bare minimum for the next two weeks to break the transmission chain. Not more than 10 visitors should be entertained in homes, he urged.

“All educational institutions, other than medical and nursing colleges, will remain closed till March 31,” an official statement said here.

Restriction of 50 percent capacity will be there in cinema halls and not more than 100 persons in a mall at any time.

In the 11 worst-hit districts, a complete ban has been ordered on all social gatherings and related functions, except for funerals/cremations/ weddings, which will be allowed with only 20 persons in attendance.

This will be enforced from Sunday. In these districts, which will remain under night curfew from 9 PM to 5 AM, the chief minister has ordered cinemas, multiplexes, restaurants, malls etc to remain closed on Sundays, though home deliveries will be allowed subject to night curfew.

Industries and essential services shall be allowed to function, but barring these, all restrictions shall be strictly enforced, the chief minister directed. Also, starting next week, one hour of silence will be observed across the state every Saturday, from 11 AM to 12 noon, in memory of those who lost their lives to COVID-19 with no vehicle to ply at this time.

The situation will be reviewed after two weeks, said the chief minister, chairing a meeting of the COVID Task Force with top officials. As of Thursday, Punjab's infection tally was 2,05,418 while the total fatalities stood at 6,204, according to a medical bulletin. PTI SUN VSD DV DV