Kathmandu public asked to avoid crowds, follow health protocolWith Dashain starting in a week, Kathmandu’s shopping districts are crowded with festival buyers.
As the country prepares for a major festival season, the District Administration Office of Kathmandu on Thursday introduced a new set of rules to stem the spread of Covid-19.
The “order”, which will come into force from Thursday midnight until further notice, lists out rules to be followed in public spaces while asking the public to avoid unwanted gatherings, meetings, processions and fairs. Any non-essential outing should be avoided, reads the order.
“The risk of Covid-19 infection is still present. People should not come out of their homes unnecessarily or participate in social gatherings such as jatras and melas,” reads the order issued by Chief District Officer Govinda Prasad Rijal and published on the office’s website.
With the country’s biggest festival Dashain starting in a week, the Capital’s major shopping districts including Bhotahity, New Road, Indra Chowk, Khichapokhari, New Baneshwar and Koteshwar among others are crowded with festive shoppers.
It is interesting to note that the administration’s order has come at a time when the valley has been witnessing political rallies and seminars with some more planned for the next few days. For example, the CPN-UML is all set to organise a three-day statue convention from October 1 gathering over 5,000 representatives in Godavari, Lalitpur. Similarly, the ruling Nepali Congress has been holding district-level conferences across the country. Also, the All Nepal National Independent Students’ Union, student wing of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), has started its three-day National Conference in Kathmandu from Thursday.
The CPN-UML, reacting to the new order issued by the district administration, called it ‘politically motivated’ and aimed at obstructing the party’s convention.
“We had taken permission for the convention a month ago. The chief district officer’s announcement is politically guided,” Ram Bahadur Thapa, Standing Committee member of the UML, told the Post’s sister paper Kantipur. He said that the general convention is going to be held by strictly adhering to the health protocol.
When asked to comment on the existing Covid-19 situation, crowding in public spaces and public transport and political gatherings, Chief District Officer Rijal said his office is trying its best to make people follow the health protocols. “We haven’t imposed any restrictions, but we are making people aware that the coronavirus infection is still there, and making them alert,” said Rijal.
“People should become self aware and follow the rules. We can win over the virus only if everyone takes caution,” said Rijal.
Aside from the request to limit public movement, the order has also asked citizens to remain on alert against possible robberies and thefts during the festive season.
The circular also directs public transport operators to follow Covid-19 health safety protocols and not to carry passengers more than the vehicles’ seating capacities. This circular is not new though, the government numerous times has failed to ensure the public vehicles do not carry passengers more than their seating capacities.
This time, the CDO has asked the party palaces, banquets and hotels to conduct rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) on their employees while catering to a large group of people.
“Now it is the duty of the media to monitor and report whether the government is actually implementing the new rules or not,” said Dr Baburam Marasaini, a former director at the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division.
The order also says anyone involved in black marketing in essentials and medicines will face legal action.