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Punjab CM hints at lockdown relaxations, but says curbs needed to check coronavirus spread


Chandigarh, Apr 28: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday hinted at lockdown relaxations on the basis a report to be submitted by an expert panel formed to draw an exit strategy. The issue will come up for a discussion at a state cabinet meeting on April 30. He, however, said the lockdown was necessary to delay the coronavirus spread as the Centre has indicated on the basis of inputs and studies that the number of cases will continue to rise till July.

Amarinder Singh

The chief minister was interacting with MLAs during a video conference when he made the remarks. The CM indicated that his government could go for certain relaxations, while taking all precautions, based on the report of the expert committee formulating the state's coronavirus curfew exit strategy, according to a government statement here. Punjab Congress Chief Sunil Jakhar too urged caution.

He suggested classification of COVID zones at the village level to ensure better management of the relaxations, as and when they come.

During the video conference, Jakhar suggested allowing industries in rural areas to operate in the night. There was largely a consensus among the MLAs to continue with strictness for another couple of weeks with very limited relaxations in certain areas only. They said borders should remain sealed not just around the state but also among the districts and villages, said the release.

Coronavirus patients should be hospitalised within their own district to limit outside contact and exposure, they opined, advising extreme cautions in lifting restrictions. Pathankot MLA Amit Vij and Bhoa legislator Joginder Pal raised the issue of a shortage of testing facilities, ventilators and relief ration kits. They demanded more sampling.

They also suggested that books be made available to government school students as they all could not attend online classes, with many of the poor not having smartphones. The CM urged the MLAs to set an example by taking all precautions while executing their public responsibilities.

On a request from Uttar Pradesh to send back their migrant labourers after quarantining them in Punjab, the CM said he shall convey to his counterpart there that this has to be done by his government and not by Punjab. The CM further made it clear that his government will make all efforts for the care of migrant labourers. “We need to look after them so that they do not leave Punjab, where they are needed to help out in the procurement operations as well as the industries that we are gradually opening up,” he said.

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