Cabinet decides to ease lockdown in phasesShops to open up and private vehicles to ply in the first phase.
The government has decided to ease the lockdown, allowing shops to open and vehicles to operate under the odd-even rule.
The high-level committee to prevent and control Covid-19 will prepare the protocol for opening shops and operating vehicles on the odd-even number basis, according to a minister.
“Before fixing the protocol about opening shops and operating vehicles, the Cabinet will give directives to the committee,” said the minister. “We decided to allow shops to open and operate private vehicles, only for short distances, under the odd-even rule. More decisions will be taken by the Cabinet on Thursday.”
Certain criteria will be decided on to open up shops and operate vehicles, the minister said. This is the first step towards opening up the economy.
Private offices, the service sector, large industries, malls and big shopping centres will be gradually opened up after assessing the risk, the minister said.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had told the House earlier on Wednesday that a Cabinet meeting scheduled for later in the day would take a decision on easing the lockdown.
The country has been under lockdown since March 24 to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Despite calls from various sections to ease the lockdown as it has affected businesses and deprived the poor and marginalised of their livelihoods, the government was undecided among the different modalities presented by different committees.
Traders in Kathmandu had started to defy the lockdown and open up shop while protests are also beginning to take place as the country enters the 80th day of the lockdown.
According to the minister, the decision to ease the lockdown, however, will not be immediately applicable across the country but only in the areas where there is less risk.
“We will assess the risk in the coming days and more decisions will be taken in certain designated cities or districts or areas,” said the minister.
Both private two-wheelers and four-wheelers, including taxis, can operate from Thursday but will have to follow the odd-even rule. Vehicles with an odd licence plate will be allowed out on odd dates going by the Nepali calendar while even plates will be allowed on even dates.
Nepal so far has reported 15 Covid-19 deaths and 4,364 infections.