SHILLONG, April 19: Alarmed by the sudden surge in COVID cases in Shillong and East Khasi Hills district, the Meghalaya government has ordered a slew of restrictions including the closure of schools and prohibiting tourists from entering the state while resisting complete lockdown.
The restrictions followed a review meeting held here on Monday to discuss the COVID situation in the state and the containment of the virus.
Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma told media persons after the meeting that the rise in the number of COVID cases this time is six times higher than in the first wave. “It took 114 days for the state to cross 600 cases last year but 680 cases have been reported this time around in a mere 25 days,” he said.
Terming the situation as serious, he said the restrictions on the entry of tourists will be imposed from April 23 for the next 14 days.
“But local tourists will be allowed to visit some of the tourist destinations,” he said, adding that the deputy commissioners have been asked to decide which tourist locations need to be less crowded.
Citing the example of Golf Links where a lot of crowding is reported, Sangma said that such tourist spots will be shut down.
The government has also decided to close the schools in Shillong agglomeration for the next 14 days. All classes from Nursery till Class XII will thus remain closed from Tuesday till May 3.
The decision to close the schools in Shillong has been taken due to the spike in COVID cases in the capital. The situation in other parts of the state would be reviewed before a similar decision is taken, Sangma said.
However, the Class X and XII board examinations will continue as necessary arrangements have been made to ensure the safety of the students.
Govt offices at half the strength
The government and private offices have been asked to function at 50% strength. However, banks and post offices would function at full capacity.
Shops and other agencies have been allowed to work with full capacity provided they follow the protocols. Violation of the protocols will entail closure notice, the Chief Minister said.
Restaurants, eateries and hotels have been allowed to function at 50% capacity but the government has asked all restaurants to encourage takeaways. In addition, vendors will be allowed to open roadside markets so that the crowd can be scattered.
“We will be reviewing the situation in the next seven days and decide how to move forward,” he said.
The government has also decided to restrict public gatherings although exemptions will be made for marriage ceremonies and other social gatherings after seeking due permission from the deputy commissioner concerned.
The validity of the RT-PCR test has also been reduced from 72 to 48 hours.
Stressing the need to keep a balance between the livelihood and safety of the people, the Chief Minister made it clear that the government is not in favour of a complete lockdown.
“We have started with these restrictions which should help in the coming days but all this will be possible with the support and cooperation of the public. The people may face some difficulty but all this is being done to avoid complete lockdown situation in the next 2-3 weeks,” Sangma said.
The government also asserted that it would go for an aggressive vaccination drive for which discussions would be held with the MLAs of Shillong and other Rangbah Shnongs (headmen) to ensure maximum vaccination.
Close all LP, UP schools in state: Metbah
Assembly Speaker, Metbah Lyngdoh on Monday appealed Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma to close all Lower Primary and Upper Primary schools in the state in view of the rise in COVID-19 cases.
In the letter addressed to the chief minister, Lyngdoh said that he had received feedbacks from all sections of the society and majority are of the view that all LP and UP schools should be closed down for some time.
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