Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday (May 16) evening said the coronavirus lockdown in the state will continue till May 31, though his government will lift the curfew restrictions.
From May 18, there will be no curfew in the state. But the lockdown will be there till May 31, said the chief minister in a live Facebook interaction as part of his #AskCaptain initiative.
He further indicated the resumption of limited public transport services and the “maximum possible relaxation” in the non-containment zones from May 18.
He said the state government will announce more relaxations from May 18 but sought support of people in containing the COVID-19 spread in the state.
The containment zones will be sealed to enable the resumption of shops and small businesses in non-containment areas, the CM announced, adding that lockdown details will be announced by Monday after going through guidelines of the Centre.
The CM, however, said educational institutions will remain closed.
There is not going to be any fee hike in fee this year by private schools, the CM added.
Singh said in its suggestions to the Union Home Minister, as sought by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the state has recommended that the nationwide lockdown should be extended till May 31 in a relaxed form.
The chief minister said the state government has asked the Union government for a simpler categorisation of containment zones.
He said at present, a district as a whole is a single zone or at the most, there are two units — municipal and non-municipal corporation area.
COVID-19 cases in one part of a district can result in classification of the entire district as a red zone, putting severe restrictions on industry and shops, he noted, underlining the need to scrap this system and go for a “containment-focused strategy”.
The CM said the daily number of new cases in the state has come down in the past four days or so after a recent surge in the wake of the arrival of pilgrims from Nanded and students from Kota.
He thanked people for their cooperation, “enabling the state to control infection cases, whose doubling rate is now 44 days against several other states, such as Maharashtra’s 11 days”.
However, the numbers can go up as more migrant labourers and NRIs enter Punjab, he warned, adding that 60,000 Punjabis from other states and 20,000 from abroad have registered for return as of now.
The chief minister made it clear that his government will continue to pay for migrants wanting to go back home.
Seventeen to 18 trains ferry migrants daily from Punjab, he said, adding that 13 lakh migrant workers are in the state.
No effort will be spared to ensure that no person goes hungry, he declared, agreeing that over one crore food packets distributed so far were not sufficient and more needed to be done on this count.
Responding to a question, the CM said it was not possible to further advance paddy cultivation date from June 10 to June 1 as it may lead to higher moisture content in grains at the time of harvesting in August.
On the promise of providing one lakh jobs announced in the budget, he said the process will soon start.
The CM again urged the Opposition not to indulge in petty politics over the issue of COVID-19, and to cooperate with the state government in the hour of crisis.