Local units reimpose lockdown measures following rise in Covid-19 casesMost districts have reported new cases since the nationwide lockdown was lifted in July, prompting local governments to step up safety measures.
Most local units in the country have started reimposing lockdown measures following a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases. There has been a surge in cases since the nationwide lockdown was lifted from the midnight of July 21.
In Province 1, local units like Dharan, Itahari, Duhabi and Inaruwa have declared complete lockdown for at least a week starting Wednesday. In the last few days, these local units have reported transmission of the coronavirus at the community level.
On Wednesday, an executive meeting of Dharan Submetropolis decided to reimpose the lockdown for a lack of a better alternative to curb the virus transmission, according to the sub metropolitan office. Strict measures will be adopted for at least a week with fines imposed on the public if found violating the submetropolis’ directive. According to Bed Narayan Gachhadar, mayor of Duhabi Municipality, the bazaar area and the municipal office have been sealed to the public.
“We will have to ensure that the lockdown order is executed effectively. Anyone found violating the order will be fined Rs 5,000,” Gachhadar said.
Rajan Mehata, mayor of Inaruwa Municipality, said reimposing lockdown was a necessary move to stop the community spread of the virus.
In Province 2, only two of the eight districts remain open after authorities decided to impose prohibitory orders following an explosion of coronavirus cases in the province.
However, for the locals, the lockdown means subsequent financial ruin. For the past four months, businesses have had to close their shutters and people have struggled for a lack of income. Small roadside businesses are among the worst-hit by the lockdown and these businesses are likely to suffer more with the reimposition of the lockdown.
Chhotu Sah Pahalwan, a local of Kalaiya Sub Metropolis in Bara, sells snacks at Bharat Chok. His business was hit hard by the four-month-long lockdown, and he had just resumed business about two weeks ago when the prohibitory order was imposed in the metropolis. For the last four days, Pahalwan hasn’t been able to wheel his cart out to the market to make a sale.
“We somehow survived the four months of lockdown. We lived on the bare minimum,” said Pahalwan, who is the sole breadwinner for his family of five. “This is the only way I can make money. I hadn’t been able to sell much in the past weeks but at least I was selling enough to provide for my family. But now I can’t even do that.”
Mithalesh Sarraf, a shop owner in Kalaiya bazaar, has had to close his business because of the prohibitory order.
“I sell electric fans and summer is the only time when I make money. But this year I haven’t been able to sell much since I haven’t opened my shop this summer,” he said. “The authorities should come up with alternatives to this lockdown. We can’t put our lives on hold forever.”
Market areas of Kalaiya, Jitpur Simara, Nijagadh, Kolhawi, Mahagadhimai, Simraungadh and Parwanipur, among other areas in Bara, have also been shut for the past four days until further notice.
“We survived the lockdown but we’re not sure if we will come out unscathed out of this second phase of lockdown measures,” said Gauri Prasad Jayasawal, who runs an eatery in Kalaiya Ward No. 5. “My business has gone kaput. I see no signs of recovery if we are to stay under lockdown indefinitely. It’s time the government comes up with a better plan to help us survive the effects of the pandemic.”
However, none of the authorities have so far come forward with concrete plans to help small business owners tide over the financial crisis, said Jayasawal.
On Sunday, the District Administration Office in Bara had imposed an indefinite prohibitory order in many parts of the district due to a spike in coronavirus cases.
The number of positive cases has been adding up every day, leaving the district administration with no other alternative than to execute prohibitory orders, says Chief District Officer of Bara Rudra Prasad Pandit.
“New cases of coronavirus are being reported on a daily basis and it’ll only get worse if we don’t act now. The administration had to impose a prohibitory order in the district to stop the further spread of the virus,” Pandit said.
Besides banning small businesses from operating in the midst of the pandemic, the Bara administration has also stepped up its inspection of large industries to ensure that they are adopting health and safety protocols. Jagadamba Enterprises and Maruti Pharmaceutical Industry were sealed and barred from operating until further notice after a few Covid-19 cases were reported from their offices on Wednesday.
“We have also started inspecting other industries, and those found not adhering to health and safety protocols will be sealed,” said Pandit.
Kailari Rural Municipality in Kailali has also declared an indefinite lockdown from Thursday. The rural municipality, which shares its border with India, has struggled to curb people’s movement across the border since the nationwide lockdown was lifted.
“We have to reimpose the lockdown to stop the unwanted movement of people,” Lajuram Chaudhary, chairman of the rural municipality, said. “An executive meeting held on Wednesday decided to reimpose complete lockdown in the rural municipality for an indefinite period.”
Meanwhile, local authorities in Nuwakot of Bagmati Province and Syangja in Gandaki Province on Wednesday decided to extend the prohibitory order for an indefinite period. The two districts had imposed prohibitory orders last week.
The District Administration Office in Nuwakot decided to extend the order after two coronavirus cases were identified in Bidur and Kakani on Wednesday.
Chief District Officer in Nuwakot Jhankanath Dhakal said, “We have extended the prohibitory order to contact-trace and identify possible patients.”
Likewise, Ganga Bahadur Chhetri, chief district officer of Syangja, said, “Syangja has reported 59 coronavirus cases since the lifting of the lockdown. The recent cases are without a travel history, indicating community transmission of the virus in the district. Putali bazaar, Galyang and Arjun Chaupari areas, where recent cases were reported, are currently sealed.”
With inputs from our local correspondents.