India

Barring essential services, lockdown in Punjab till March 31

Chandigarh, March 22 (IANS) As the state's coronavirus cases spiked to 14, the Punjab government on Sunday announced a compete lockdown of non-essential services as a preventing step against coronavirus till March 31, becoming the second state after Rajasthan to enforce a shutdown.

At a meeting chaired Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, it was decided that

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all essential government services will continue and shops selling essential items such as milk, food items and medicines will be open.

In a tweet, the Chief Minister said: “All DCs (Deputy Commissioners) and SSPs (Senior Superintendents of Police) have been directed to implement the restrictions immediately,” he added.

Earlier, there was a complete and partial lockdown in seven coronavirus-hit districts.

However, employees of essential services such as banks and post offices and government employees would work on a rotation basis, which will not be more than 50 per cent of the strength in their offices.

The entry of visitors in government and semi-government offices, local self-government bodies, and the boards and corporations was also banned.

Among the departments excluded from the shutdown were medical, health, police, jails, transport, electricity and water.

The Chief Minister has announced a relief of Rs 3,000 to each registered construction worker in the state.

The money would be transferred to their bank accounts by March 23 in a bid to mitigate the hardships being faced by them.

A sum of Rs 96 crore would be released for this purpose. The Labour Department has been directed by the Chief Minister to take immediate steps to ensure the transfer.

The state has also suspended the biometric authentication system of beneficiaries of wheat at fair price shops March 31.

The Chief Minister appreciated the decision of one of the leading business houses Trident Group to close down its unit in the state and offer full wages, housing and food to his employees during closure, a government spokesperson told IANS.

He appealed to other industrialists in the state to follow suit.

As many as 91 people have been quarantined and 6,641 people are still under surveillance, said state's medical bulletin said on Saturday.

–IANS

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