Jammu, Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Saturday imposed “complete restriction on non-essential movement” during weekends in Jammu & Kashmir amid a surge in Covid cases that rose by 2,456 a day earlier.
District authorities swung into action immediately, closing down markets and asking people to return to their homes.
Announcing the decision of the State Executive Committee (SEC), which met under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary A K Mehta, officials said night curfew and online mode of teaching in schools and colleges will continue.
After a weekly review of the COVID-19 situation, Mehta said there was a need for additional steps besides continuing with the existing Covid containment measures in all districts given the uneven trend in daily cases as well as rising positivity rate.
“There shall be a complete restriction on non-essential movement during weekends in entire Jammu and Kashmir,” Mehta said in his latest order.
Following the order, Deputy Commissioner of Jammu Anshul Garg, in a tweet, said the complete restrictions on non-essential movements in the district is from Fridays 9 pm to Mondays 6 am.
“There shall be no restrictions on transport, essential services/activities and home deliveries during the weekend in Jammu. However, the public is strongly urged to stay at home to avoid any inconvenience. Grateful for your cooperation,” he said.
Police and civil officials visited different markets in the city to enforce the order.
Shopkeepers, who had opened their establishments in the morning, were surprised by the announcement and said the government should have intimated them about it a day in advance time to prevent the panic buying of essentials that has started.
Deputy Commissioner of Udhampur Indu Kanwal Chib herself led the drive to implement the order and was seen asking commuters and shopkeepers to return to their homes.
She said, “Patnitop is recording huge turnout on weekends. We are enforcing strict lockdown there as well.” Nobody will be allowed to visit the hill station after 5 pm on weekdays, the officer said.
Police vehicles fitted with public address systems were seen roaming in public places informing people about the weekend restrictions and seeking their cooperation.
Shops and other business establishments in Srinagar and in Kashmir Valley, which had opened this morning, were made to down shutters by the police and people were asked to return homes.
The police erected barricades at several places in and the movement of public was restricted, officials said, adding only emergency cases were allowed to move.
The State Executive Committee order stated that asymptomatic people arriving in Jammu & Kashmir by air, rail and roads would not be required to undergo RT-PCR or Rapid Antigen test on arrival if they have a valid and verifiable final certificate report of COVID-19 vaccination or a valid verifiable negative RT-PCR report done within 72 hours of arrival.
“RT-PCR or RAT Covid tests shall, however, be conducted on symptomatic incoming passengers by air, rail and road,” it stated.
Inner-state movement of passenger vehicles of State Road Transport Corporation and private buses shall be permitted for fully vaccinated people with verifiable RT-PCR report not older than 72 hours or on-spot RAT test.
Vaccinated people will be allowed entry to parks after due verification.
The SEC however reiterated that gathering of 25 people at any indoor or outdoor function or gathering up to 25 vaccinated people or 25 per cent of the authorised capacity, whichever is less, preferably in open spaces at banquet halls will be allowed.
Cinema halls, theatres, multiplexes, restaurants, clubs, gymnasiums and swimming pools are permitted to continue operation at 25 per cent of the authorised capacity.
Jammu and Kashmir recorded the highest single-day rise of Covid cases this year on Friday when 2,456 fresh infections pushed the tally to 3,52,623, while five fatalities took the death linked to the viral disease to 4,557.
The SEC directed all deputy commissioners to intensify testing and constitute teams to enforce Covid appropriate behaviour.
The Home Secretary will monitor the enforcement of Covid appropriate behaviour closely and submit a report to the chairperson of the SEC daily basis, the order said. District magistrates can order the setting up of as many micro containment zones as needed.