By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 14 Jun: The Government has extended the Covid Curfew till the morning of 22 June. The government has played safe by deciding to continue more or less with the same guidelines as applicable during the week that ended on 14 June. However, some relaxations have been granted. While the markets would remain open on 16, 18 and 21 June till 5 p.m., sweet shops have been allowed to open for five days in the week. In addition, the government has also raised the number of people permitted to attend marriage functions or funerals from 20 to 50. One more important decision taken by the government is to permit residents of three hill districts Rudraprayag, Chamoli and Uttarakashi to undertake Char Dham Yatra with the condition of adherence to SOP protocols related to Covid. These are the districts where the four Char Dham shrines are located. Unlike in Himachal Pradesh which has done away with the requirement of negative RTPCR reports for the tourists to enter the state, Uttarakhand continues the mandatory requirement of carrying negative RTPCR reports issued within the past 72 hours.
This was stated today by Government Spokesman and Cabinet Minister Subodh Uniyal. Uniyal said that while there were clear indications the second wave of Corona pandemic had ebbed, this did not mean that the pandemic had gone. There was a need for caution and therefore the government had decided to continue with the restrictions as applicable during the current week. The government could start the process of unlock beginning 22 June depending on the Covid situation in the state, he added. He added that Auto and Vikram three wheelers had now been permitted to operate in urban areas. The government had also decided to open revenue courts. In order to attend any marriage function, a negative RTPCR report issued within past 72 hours has been made mandatory particularly for those coming from other states.
Uniyal said that the markets would open on 16, 18 and 21 June, while sweet shops would open five days a week. District Magistrates had been authorised to take the decision regarding opening of markets in rural areas, he said. He said that the pendency of cases in the revenue courts had increased sharply due to the Covid curfew, therefore, for the convenience of the litigants, it had been decided to open all the revenue courts, with the condition of strict adherence to Covid protocols and a limit of not more than 20 cases to be heard in a day.
With the decrease in the cases of corona virus infection, the government has started the exercise of opening the Chardham Yatra. In the first phase, the Yatra has been opened for the local residents of Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi districts. Residents of these districts can visit the dhams from Tuesday if there is a negative report of RTPCR up to 72 hours in advance. According to Minister Subodh Uniyal, after reviewing the situation in the coming days, a decision will be taken on other districts and then residents of other states in a phased manner.
It may be recalled that in view of the second wave of corona infection in the state, the government had postponed the Chardham Yatra starting from 14 May this year in spite of the fact that the portals of the Char Dham shrines namely Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri opened on the scheduled dates with only a handful of Teerth Purohits permitted to offer prayers there, so far. Meanwhile, the demand for opening the Chardham Yatra is being raised continuously due to the decrease in the cases of Corona infection.
The sweets shop owners were also demanding permission to open shops five days in a week on the grounds that sweets were highly perishable items.
It may be recalled that after the second wave of corona infection had intensified, the government had implemented Covid curfew in the state from 1 p.m. on 10 May till 6 a.m. on 18 May. Since then the lockdown has been continuously extended for a week, each time.
Lockdown extended till 22 June, markets to open on 16, 18 & 21 June
By Arun Pratap Singh