A 12-hour curfew will be imposed from 6 pm in Assam during the third phase of the lockdown beginning from Monday, Assam Health and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Sunday. The curfew will be strictly enforced with no movement allowed from 6 pm to 6 am and the police will take strict action against those violating it, the minister said at a press conference here
A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting with Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and "we have taken certain conservative measures as allowed by the Union Home Ministry guidelines, to contain the spread of COVID-19", Sarma said. All people, except those working in pharmacies, medical services, fire services, ambulances, media and government employees engaged in essential services, must return to their homes by 6 pm, he said.
Private medical clinics, doctor chambers, veterinary clinics, dental clinics, laboratories will open from Monday but they will close at 5 pm. Stand-alone shops in both urban and rural areas will open from Monday while shops in rows, one-third shops will open which will be decided by the respective Market Associations in consultation with the Deputy Commissioners, he said. Pharmacies, grocery shops and book stalls, however, will not come within the one-third consideration and all will remain open.
Market places and shopping malls, weekly markets, fish and markets will also remain closed. "All those allowed to reopen will, however, close by 5 pm so that people working there can reach their homes before curfew begins at 6 pm", the minister said. City buses, intra-district and inter-district buses shall operate with 50 per cent capacity. Private buses can also operate with 50 per cent capacity but with the authority or permission of the Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC), he said.
There will be no movement of buses in the Red and Orange zones but those crossing these districts can pass through the national or state highways without stopping, Sarma said. Waterways will remain closed but the Deputy Commissioners can discuss this with the ferry owners on whether it can be started by maintaining social distancing, he said.
Autorickshaws, cycle rickshaws and taxis are allowed with one driver and two passengers maintaining social distancing and private four wheelers are allowed with driver and two others. For two wheelers, pillion riding is allowed either with one female or one child up to the age of 12 years.
Livestock carrying trucks will not be allowed to enter the state but if any vehicle headed for any state outside Assam with livestock may be allowed to move to their destination without stopping in the state, he said. All government and private offices shall operate with 50 per cent employees but women employees with children below the age of five will not attend office till May 17 when this will be reviewed again, he said.
All construction work will be allowed in urban areas with a maximum of 50 per cent work force. All tea shops, restaurants, ice-cream parlours and cooked food outlets can operate on takeaway or home delivery basis only, he said. Barber shops, saloons and parlours will remain closed but their home visits are allowed after following hygiene and sanitisation norms. Gyms, cinemas, multiplexes, bars and swimming pools will remain closed.
Movement of persons above the age of 65 and children below the age ten years shall be restricted in public spaces except for medical purposes, he said. Wearing of masks is mandatory at all places while maintaining social distancing and arrangement for thermal scanning and hand sanitization shall be the responsibility of the heads of both public and private organisations, the Minister asserted.
All other provisions applicable during the third phase of the lockdown in the state will be as per the guidelines of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Sarma added.