The Assam government on Saturday announced relaxation of the three-week lockdown in Guwahati from July 20 with critics pointing out that the restrictions did not serve the purpose of checking COVID-19 positive cases.
But the lockdown on Saturdays and Sundays, across urban and semi-urban centres, will continue to be imposed in the city.
The lockdown was initially imposed for two weeks from June 29, a day after the State recorded 7,492 positive cases with more than 700 of them having been infected through community transmission. It was extended by a week till July 19.
From June 29 to July 17, 14,372 positive cases were recorded and more than 45% of them were from Guwahati. The figures, the Opposition Congress and some residents of the city had pointed out, made it apparent that the lockdown was not effective.
“We have decided to start the unlocking phase from July 20 with certain restrictions. Night curfew will remain in force from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. while inter-district movement will open for only two days till July 22,” Chief Secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna said.
According to an order by the State Disaster Management Authority headed by Mr. Krishna, wine shops, wholesale and retail outlets can open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. but alternately on one side of the road. Vegetable, fish and meat shops, courier and e-commerce activities have been given the same window.
“There will be no street and footpath vending of any sort. Malls, cinema halls, gymnasiums, yoga centres and all places of public gathering shall remain closed,” Mr. Krishna said.
While shopkeepers have been allowed to operate with only 50% of the employees “including owner testing negative”, government and private offices have been asked to operate with only 30% of the workforce.
Cab aggregators, auto and manual rickshaws except e-rickshaws have been allowed to operate with two passengers at any given time. But private vehicles have been disallowed unless used for medical and other emergency.