Adopting a graded approach to reopening, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday ordered extension of Covid restrictions in the state to June 15 with certain relaxations, including opening of shops till 6 p.m and private offices to function at 50% strength.Night curfew will remain in force from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weekdays, including Saturdays, but regular weekend curfew will continue on Sundays, the Chief Minister announced.With case positivity declining to 3.2% and active cases also coming down, the Chief Minister allowed gatherings up to 20 people, including weddings and cremations. Entry restrictions (negative Covid test/vaccination) for arrivals in the state have also been done away with.Recruitment exams will be allowed to be held subject to adherence to social distancing and other Covid appropriate norms, though the Chief Minister said online mode should be preferred. Sports training for national and international events has also been permitted and the Department of Sports and Youth affairs has been asked to issue the necessary instructions and guidelines, which shall have to be strictly adhered to.Reviewing the Covid situation virtually, with ministers, senior police and administrative officials and health experts, the Chief Minister said district administration may determine opening of non-essential shops, including on weekend, on the basis of local situation, while ensuring that crowding leading to spread of Covid are avoided. On government offices, he said that attendance can be decided by the head of the concerned office but co-morbid/disabled employees at risk may be exempted.Further relaxations will be allowed in the coming weeks depending on the outcomes, if the cases continue to decline, said Captain Amarinder, adding that Gyms and Restaurants could be opened after a week with 50%, and other conditions as per expert advice, if the situation improves further. Owners and workers of the gyms and restaurants should get themselves vaccinated prior to the reopening, he added.
Asserting that Punjab could not afford to let its guard down despite the decline in case load and increasing in testing, the Chief Minister said the virus mutations were a matter of concern, even though the CFR was lower than the first wave.The Chief Minister expressed satisfaction over the progress of the Corona Mukt Pendu Abhiyan in the villages, where almost 1.5 Crore individuals (37 lakh households) have already been screened. These efforts, he said, had resulted in identification of 5889 positive patients who have been assisted as per protocols. The week on week positivity has also reduced from 9 % to 3 %, he added, reiterating, however, the need to further strengthen the screening and testing mechanisms to free the rural areas of the state from the pandemic.Referring to the spread of Black Fungus (Mucormycosis), the Chief Minister said there are currently 381 cases of mucormycosis in the state, of which 38 have already been cured and 265 are undergoing treatment. There is an adequate supply of drugs for treatment, he assured the people, adding that his government would continue to augment the supplies and ensure that there is no shortage of any essential drug in the state. For better management of cases, the Chief Minister asked the departments to reduce testing time. Post-Covid complications should be studied carefully for better preparation to handle those, he said, citing the example of Flying Sikh Milkha Singh, who was discharged after Covid recovery but had to be again hospitalised. He said he had been informed that 20% of patients in hospitals in Patiala are similar cases of recovered patients being readmitted.Punjab’s Covid Expert Group head Dr KK Talwar informed the meeting that almost 30% Covid patients are having post Covid complications and continue to be symptomatic. Patients are taking almost three months to get back to normal, and thus need to be strictly monitored, he added.