Valley authorities mull easing restrictions from mid-JuneBusinesses and services that are less likely to cause crowding could reopen.
With the Covid-19 recovery rates improving across the country, authorities are likely to ease the prohibitory orders in the Kathmandu Valley from mid-June.
On Thursday the country reported 2,874 new cases of Covid-19 and 5,293 recoveries in the last 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry. The daily recovery numbers are nearly double the new infections.
Just a month ago, on May 6, Kathmandu district alone had reported 3,163 new cases with the nationwide single day total standing at 8,970.
“We have worked out three models to ease the prohibitory orders. Maybe we will make them public by Sunday,” said Kalpana Ghimire, the assistant chief district officer of Kathmandu.
“Businesses and services that are less likely to cause crowding could reopen,” said Ghimire.
Meanwhile, Dhundi Prasad Niraula, the chief district officer of Lalitpur also confirmed that plans were afoot to ease the restrictions.
“The existing restrictions will most likely be eased after analysing the situation, but we have not taken any decision yet,” said Niraula.
The prohibitory orders in Kathmandu Valley that are in place since April 29 were extended until June 14 by easing some of the restrictions last week.
The prohibitory orders were made stricter for a week until last Thursday with the authorities closing grocery shops and department stores amid widespread criticism. The authorities had allowed only the shops selling vegetables, fruits, dairy products, meat, drinking water and cooking gas until 9 am. But from last Friday grocery shops, department stores, stationery shops and automobile workshops were also allowed to do business until 9am.
With the easing of the prohibitory orders, the number of vehicles on the road have also increased, said Janak Bhattrai, senior Superintendent also chief at Metropolitan Traffic Police Division.
According to the division, a total of 1,503 vehicles were detained on Thursday for breaching the prohibitory orders. “But until a week ago, we would detain more than 2,000 such vehicles every day,” said Bhattrai.
On the first day of the prohibitory orders on April 29, traffic police had detained 1,920 vehicles for operating in breach of the restrictions.
According to the Division, a total of 77,878 of which 54,668 two wheelers, 18,097 four wheelers and 5,113 including trucks, tipper trucks and other vehicles were detained since the prohibitory orders were imposed in the Valley in April. Such vehicles are detained for several hours and released upon the payment of penalty.
Janak Raj Dahal, joint secretary and spokesperson at the Home Ministry said, the ministry has been consulting the provincial government on its plan to ease the prohibitory order. “We have been collecting district-wise data on the Covid-19 infections and deaths from the chief district offices. We will come up with a decision after studying the data,” said Dahal.
“We do not want to cause inconvenience to the public, so after analyzing the data we will most likely ease the prohibitory orders in places where the infection rates have come down,” said Dahal. He said they will give priority to easing restrictions on agricultural-related activities as the monsoon paddy planting season has started.
“Also, the services linked to basic human needs will be given priority while easing restrictions. It’s paddy planting season so the farmers should be allowed to transport seeds and fertillisers. Also, transportation of construction materials will be allowed,” said Bhattrai.
He hinted that restrictions on public gatherings, cinemas, gym centers, dance bars, restaurants, party venues, swimming pools, beauty salons, futsal courts, zoo, libraries and games that are played in groups will remain.