With an effort to give a tough fight against the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Assam government on March 23rd, 2020, declared lockdown in the state with effect from 6 pm on March 24th to March 31st, 2020.
However, the essential services and commodities are exempted from the lockdown. Any person who infringes the rules will be punished with imprisonment for a term of six months that may extend up to two years.
Assam has not reported any positive COVID-19 case to date. The virus has infected a total of 446 people and claimed nine lives so far according to the Healthy Ministry.
State Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on March 24th, 2020, informed that a total of 169 samples have been tested for coronavirus out of which 148 were found negative and results of 21 are still awaited. Out of this samples, 83 were tested in Regional Medical Research Centre, Lahowal; 64 in Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), 10 in Jorhat Medical College and Hospital (JMCH) and 10 in Silchar Medical College and Hospital, the minister informed.
State Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal appealed the people to cooperate with the government to prevent the spread of the lethal virus.
- Any congregation of more than 5 persons shall be prohibited in public places
- Transport services including operation of Taxis, auto-rickshaws will not be permitted. The exception will include transport of all kinds to and from hospitals, airports, railway station, bus stands/ terminals and goods carriers carrying food and essential commodities.
- All shops, commercial establishments, offices and factories, workshops, go-downs etc. shall close their operations.
- All foreign returnees and other such persons so required by the health personnel are directed to remain under strict home quarantine for a period as decided by the local health authorities
- People are required to stay at home and come out only for basic services while strictly following social distancing guidelines issued earlier.
- Only limited religious rituals shall be performed at temples, mosques etc. by maximum of three priests/ imams etc. at a time, without any community participation.
- State borders to be effectively sealed for all passenger vehicles including commercial and privately owned vehicles.
Excluded from restrictions
- Law and Order, Courts and Correctional Services
- Health Services and persons involved with the logistic support of healthcare services
- Police, Armed forces and para-military forces
- Electricity, Water and Municipal / Conservancy services
- Fire, Civil Defense and Emergency Services
- DIPR, Assam
- Essential IOC & ONGC Operations
- Telecom, Internet, IT & ITES and postal services
- Banks and ATMs
- Government Treasuries with limited staff
- Officials in Government offices involved with clearing of treasury bills but with limited staff.
- Offices ordered to be opened by the Finance Department. Such offices shall be closed after financial transactions are completed.
- Airports with restricted flights
- Vehicles/ Cabs owned or contracted by exempted categories for transportation of staff to workplace and back.
- Vehicles given permit for emergency use by authorized officials.
- Essential food items Food including PDS, grocery shops (with limited staff), storage and their transportation/ goods vehicles.
- Petrol Pumps, oil agencies, LPG agencies, their go-downs and transportation.
- Pharmacies, pharmaceutical / surgical manufacturing and their transportation / any other type of medical / surgical supplies eg. oxygen required for hospital use.
- Production and Manufacturing units requiring continuous process may continue to function after obtaining necessary approval from the District Magistrate, with limited staff.
- Print and electronic media.
- Manufacturing units engaged in the production of essential commodities/hospital supplies / Industrial units engaged in the manufacturing of products of public safety & hygiene.
- Any other essential services/ establishment that may be exempted by the Government.
The Assam lockdown notification stated that in case of any doubt whether any establishment/ service is essential or not, the District Magistrate shall be the competent authority to decide.
Photo: Mukut Das