J&K announces seven-hour relaxation in weekly Covid restrictions

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Despite a surge in Covid-19 cases in Jammu and Kashmir, the administration of the Union Territory has reduced the weekly restrictions on non-essential movement by seven hours. The new order came as Jammu and Kashmir reported 4,615 new cases and seven Covid-19 related deaths on Sunday.

According to the order issued late Sunday evening by UT Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, there will be a complete restriction on non-essential movement every Friday from 9 pm to 6 am on Monday. Apart from this, night curfew will continue to remain in force in all the districts from 9 pm to 6 am with complete restriction on non-essential movement, it added. Earlier, these restrictions were from Friday 2 pm till Monday 6 am.

The official pointed out in the order that there is a need for additional steps besides continuing with the existing Covid containment measures in all the districts in view of the uneven trend observed in daily cases as well as the rising positivity rate. It also said all educational institutions, including colleges, schools, polytechnics, ITIs, coaching centres for civil services, engineering, NEET etc., shall continue to adopt online teaching. “There shall be no in-person teaching,” it added.

However, it allowed educational institutions to direct the attendance of vaccinated staff for administrative purposes only. The head of such institutions must ensure that guidelines related to social distancing and Covid Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) are strictly followed, it added.

The order said all offices must regulate the attendance of their employees to ensure that appropriate social distancing norms are maintained, adding pregnant women employees and those with disabilities will be allowed to work from home.

It capped the maximum number of people allowed to attend any indoor or outdoor gathering to 25, adding banquet halls in all the districts of the UT can have a gathering of up to 25 vaccinated people (with verifiable RT-PCR or RAT not older than 72 hours), or 25 per cent of their authorised capacity (whichever is less), preferably in open spaces.

Similarly, cinema halls, theatres, multiplexes, restaurants, clubs, gymnasiums and swimming pools have been permitted to function at 25 per cent of the authorised capacity with due precautions such as CAB and adherence to SOP, it said.

It also asked all the Deputy Commissioners to intensify testing and ensure full utilisation of available RT-PCR and RAT capacities, adding there should be no drop in testing levels. While Chief Medical Officers of all districts will submit a daily report regarding the utilisation of available RT-PCR capacities to District Magistrates, the latter shall also go for capacity expansion of the RT-PCR testing as per the requirement, it said.

It asked the Deputy Commissioners to also focus on the positivity rates of the medical blocks under their jurisdictions and undertake intensified measures related to Covid management and restriction of activities. Focus on mapping of cases at the panchayat level/medical block should be renewed and effective micro-containment zones constituted wherever the number of Covid-19 cases reaches three or above, it added.

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