Punjab govt shuts down cinema halls, bans public gatherings due to coronavirus scare
Chandigarh, Mar 15: A day after closure of all educational institutions in the state till March 31, the Punjab government on Saturday ordered a shut down of cinema halls and banned public gatherings including cultural events till further notice to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu told reporters here: "All cinema halls, gyms, swimming pools in Punjab shall remain closed till further orders after midnight of March 14. All public gatherings including sports events, conferences, cultural events, fairs and exhibitions shall also not be held till further orders".
He said the step has been taken "to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19".
When asked if shopping malls too would be shut, Sidhu said there was no such plan as of now.
In the wake of the coronavirus scare, the Punjab government on Friday ordered closure of all universities, colleges and schools till March 31 as a precautionary measure against the contagious disease.
Sidhu, accompanied by Principal Secretary (Health) Anurag Aggarwal, said out of 96 samples only one tested positive for COVID-19. The condition of the Italy-returned man, who is currently admitted to a government hospital in Amritsar, was stable, he said.
Referring to reports of 335 passengers who recently returned from abroad and were untraceable, Sidhu clarified that all of them had been screened upon their arrival and were found to be asymptomatic.
However, a state government press note later said the contact details of 335 passengers "are incomplete and lists have been shared with district administration to contact them to know about their health status".
It said the Centre daily shares a list of passengers who travel to the state after returning from different foreign countries.
Earlier, a seven-member Group of Ministers (GoM) formed by the Punjab government to review the situation on a daily basis in view of the spread of coronavirus, had on Friday asked deputy commissioners not to grant permission for mass gatherings.
In a meeting held here under the chairmanship of local bodies minister Brahm Mohindra, the GoM also urged religious leaders and heads of Deras (sects) to postpone their scheduled religious congregations.