Himachal Shuts Down, Colonial Law Evoked For Lockdown

Shimla: To deal with the Chinese virus triggered global pandemic, the Himachal Pradesh government evoked the 1897 Epidemic Disease Act to lay down HP Epidemic Disease (COVID- 19) Regulations, 2020 and ordered an immediate lockdown of all territories within the state till further orders.

The order has been put into action as a preventive measure to fight COVID-19, the deadly coronavirus that first created havoc in Wuhan province of China and now has spread to many countries, triggering a health crisis in Iran, Italy, Spain, UK, USA and many other countries.

“All interstate and intrastate movement of public and private stage and contract carriages including taxies, autorickshaws etc has been prohibited. There would be total prohibition on movement or plying of trains and commercial aircrafts. The private vehicles would be plied only if essentially required for visiting hospitals and for availing or maintenance of essential services. Goods carriage vehicles would however be allowed to ply, in respect of the services provided,” said an official spokesman .

An empty public square at the popular tourist township of Manali (Photo: Sanjay Dutta)

Factories, shops directed to shutdown, essential services, medical stores, pharmaceuticals and soap manufacturing units kept open

The emergency order holds out that “all shops, commercial establishments, factories , workshops, godowns etc would close their operations.

Shops or stores selling groceries, milk, bread, fruit, vegetable, meat, fish and other uncooked food items and their transportation related activities and warehousing have been exempted and would continue to function.

Hospitals, chemist stores, optical stores, pharmaceuticals and soap manufacturing units and their ancillaries together with transportation related activities would remain operational.

Petrol pumps, LPG gas, oil agencies, their godowns and their transportation related activities would also be operational. E-commerce (delivery) of all essential goods including food, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment’s would also be operational.

Chief secretary Anil Khachi said, “HP Epidemic Disease (COVID- 19) Regulations, 2020 were framed and approved by the government a fortnight ago and the lockdown orders have been issued in accordance with it.

The Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 is a central act that is applicable in the country and states from time to time frame regulations under it to deal with any prevailing exigency.

To meet essential supplies of the populace, the lockdown order has permitted E-commerce (delivery) of all essential goods including food, pharmaceuticals and medical equipments.

For industries in production and manufacturing processes, the could continue to be in operation, but after obtaining required permission from the Deputy Commissioner of the district. These units would need to follow all precautionary protocols that from time to time are being are notified by Health Department, said the government spokesman.

Units manufacturing alcohol for medicine/ sanitizers would be operational. The Deputy Commissioner decision would be final with regard to manufacturing units engaged in production of essential commodities.

For residents of Himachal who are or have returned from abroad, a strict home quarantine would have to be observed. This would be applicable for all those landed in India on or after 9th March, 2020, said the official spokesman.

“All such foreign returnees would mandatorily notify the district Surveillance Officer of the concerned district and 104 toll free number and register themselves for home quarantine, failing which they would be liable for legal action,” he added.

For residents the spokesperson said that people are required to stay at home and come out only for basic purposes, like visit to grocery, vegetable shops, chemists, etc and for essential and permitted work related travel only and that too while strictly following social distancing guidelines issued from time to time.

“Under no circumstances, any social/cultural/ sports/ political/ religious/ academic/ family mass gatherings or gathering of any kind and purpose would be permitted at any place,” he said.

An empty street in Manali (Photo: Sanjay Dutta)

On Sunday, the ‘Janata Curfew’ voluntary lockdown call made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi was observed across the state and movement of vehicles, public transport and people in villages, towns and cities came to a standstill across all districts.

All inter-state entry and exit points have been sealed off and tourists attempting to visit the state have been turned away. Residents seeking entry into the state have to produce ID to gain access into the state.

The popular tourist destinations of Kullu-Manali, Dharamshala and Shimla wore a deserted look and hotels have shut down for any kind of business. All train services have been suspended and all flights to the airports of Kangra, Kullu and Shimla stand cancelled.

With two patients having tested positive in Kangra district, the district was directed to lockdown on Sunday by the central government health authorities.

Rakesh Prajapati, deputy commissioner Kangra said, “ though only 2 positive cases have been registered in the district, the isolation capacity has been raised from 100 to 5000 beds.”

 

With inputs from Sanjay Dutta from Manali & Arvind Sharma from Dharamshala

 

As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post. Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.

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