Assam announces complete lockdown till March 31, essential services exempted

Written by Tora Agarwala | Guwahati | Updated: March 23, 2020 8:23:58 pm The government has asked people to stay at home and venture out only for basic purposes. (Express File) Assam has announced a complete lockdown in the state from 6pm,...

Assam announces complete lockdown till March 31, essential services exempted
Written by Tora Agarwala | Guwahati | Updated: March 23, 2020 8:23:58 pm
himachal pradesh lockdown, India lockdown coronavirus, indian states lockdown coronavirus coronavirus India, coronavirus cases India, coronavirus deaths India, coronavirus news, Indian express news The government has asked people to stay at home and venture out only for basic purposes. (Express File)

Assam has announced a complete lockdown in the state from 6pm, March 24 till March 31. Grocery shops, pharmacies, petrol depot will remain open through this period. On Monday, Assam health minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma addressed a press conference in Guwahati announcing the lockdown. “Needless to say hospitals, fire brigade, electricity, public health engineering etc will remain open,” he told reporters. Cooking gas will also be available through the period. 

Assam has not reported a positive COVID-19 test so far. As of 4pm, Monday, 169 samples were tested in the four accredited testing laboratories in the state. “148 samples have tested negative and 21 samples are awaited,” said Sarma. 

The minister also announced that apart from ambulances, all inter-state movement of private and public vehicles will be stopped. All state borders of Assam will be sealed except for the movement of goods.

In religious places, like temples, mosques and naamghars (worship halls), the religious head will carry out the ritual customs, but without people participating. “At a given time, a religious place cannot have more than three people,” he said.

Treasury, banks, ATMs and finance-related government departments will remain open up to March 31. “We have exempted banks, subject to the regulations the [individual] banks have brought in themselves,” said Sarma.

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Sarma said he will introduce measures to deal with the economic impact of the lockdown in the next few days. He added that free rice provision announced in the state’s annual budget under National Food Security Act will possibly be fast-tracked to April 1. This be officially announced soon.

Sarma urged the people of the state to be serious about observing the lockdown. “If anyone violates the lockdown, they will be jailed for six months in the first instance, and two years on the second instance, under different provisions of the Indian Penal Code,” said Sarma.

He added: “We observed the [janata] curfew well yesterday. However, there were some people decided to step out. While clapping, many came out in a procession. Please do not convert Corona into a festival. This is a dangerous virus.”

He added that people who have entered Assam from three states (Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka), which have recorded a high number of positive cases, should observe strict home quarantine “whatever maybe the circumstances.” He said that Section 270 of the Indian Penal Code will be implemented in case of violation.

READ: Assam, Nagaland colleges take matter into own hands: make sanitiser, distribute among public

Sarma also requested people to only go to grocery shops and pharmacies near their homes/in their neighbourhoods, unless absolutely necessary. “Otherwise it will be considered as a violation — in case of violation, police will assess each situation and act accordingly,” he said.

The government had earlier announced that those residents of the state who were unable to return home due to the outbreak, will receive a one-time financial assistance of US $ 2000. Such persons can communicate to the government by writing to [email protected] or Finance Department Twitter handle @assamfindept.

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