Even as Covid-19 cases and deaths continue to register a surge in Punjab, the State Government on Friday virtually declared a near normalcy by allowing all board and universities examinations and throwing open the gymnasium doors.
Two days after the Central Government issued guidelines for Unlock 3.0, Punjab Government issued its own guidelines, to remain in force from August 1 to 31, with some changes to open up a few sectors of the State’s slowed down economy.
The Government has decided to continue with the night curfews, from 11 pm to 5 am, even as the Centre has decided to do away with it. Earlier the night curfew timings were from 10 pm to 5 am. During this period, the movement of individuals for all non-essential activities shall remain prohibited throughout the State.
In line with the Centre’s guidelines, the gymnasiums and yoga centres will start operating from August 5 for which the standard operating procedures (SOPs) will be issued by the Union Health Ministry.
As per the guidelines, the annual examinations, competitive examinations, admission or entrance tests conducted by universities, boards, public service commissions and other institutions have been “allowed with usual precautions or sanitation and social-distancing”. The Union Secretary has, vide DO letter dated May 20, 2020, has permitted Board and other examinations, it added.
However, the Government has brought down the number of guests at a marriage function to 30 from earlier figure if 50. “The number of guests at a marriage function can’t be more than 30 while number of people at funerals can’t go beyond 20,” it added.
It added that marriages, other social functions and “'open air” parties in banquet halls, marriage palaces, hotels and open venues can be organized, but the number of guests, exclusive of the catering staff, will not exceed 30 persons. Besides, the size of a banquet hall and venue will at least be 3,000 sq feet to ensure social distancing.
The schools, colleges and coaching institutions will remain closed till August 31, while online or distance learning will continue. Similarly, the cinema halls, swimming polls, entertainment parks, theatres, bars, auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places will not be permitted to open.
At the same time, social, political, sports, entertainment, cultural events and other large congregations will not be permitted.
Essential activities, including operation of multiple shifts, movement of persons and goods on national highways, unloading of cargo and travel of persons to their destinations after disembarking from buses, trains and aeroplanes will be permitted.
“Spitting at public places is completely prohibited and a punishable offence. Consumption of liquor, pan, gutka and tobacco in public places is also prohibited, though there will be no restriction on their sale,” added the guidelines.
The places of worship are allowed to remain open only between 5 am and 8 pm and the number of persons at any given time shall will not exceed 20 with due distancing. Langar and prasad are allowed and SOPs for religious places shall be followed.Restaurants are allowed to open till 10 pm with 50 percent occupancy or 50 guests, whichever is less. Liquor can be served provided the restaurant has a valid permission from the Excise Department. However, bars shall remain closed.
Restaurants will be open to persons other than hotel guests but the timings, for both the hotel guests as well as persons from outside, will be till 10 pm. Liquor can be served in rooms and restaurants, as permitted under the excise policy of the state.
All shopping malls and shops, including those in main bazars of urban and rural areas, will be allowed to open between 7 am and 8 pm.
However, restaurants or hotels situated within shopping malls are to be treated separately and can remain open till 10 pm. Liquor vends shall, however, remain open from 8 am to 10 pm.
For shops situated in the main bazaars, market complexes, ‘rehri’ markets and other crowded places, district authorities can exercise their discretion and in order to avoid crowding shall stagger the opening of shops.
Barber shops, saloons, beauty parlours and spas will be allowed from 7 am to 8 pm, subject to the compliance of the SOPs to be issued by the state Health Department.
Shops dealing with essential commodities will be allowed to open till 8 pm on all days. Restaurants and liquor vends will continue to remain open till 10 pm on all days.
On Sundays, shops other than those dealing in essential commodities and shopping malls shall remain closed. However, on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan, all shops and malls will remain open from 7 am to 8 pm on Sunday, August 2.
Sports complexes, stadia and public parks will be allowed to open from 5 am to 8 pm without spectators as per the SOP of the Health Department.
As per the state’s guidelines, industrial units and construction activities are allowed. No separate permission will be required by the industries and other establishments for their operations and all employees will be allowed without any pass requirement during the permitted hours.
Inter-state and intra-state movement of buses will be allowed without any restriction. There shall be no restriction on inter-state and intra-state movement of persons and goods and no separate permission or approval or permit will be required for such movement. The government has also made use of COVA-app and self-generated pass mandatory for inter-state passengers. Besides, wearing of masks by all persons in public places, including work places etc, has been made mandatory and must be strictly observed and enforced.