Gangtok, May 15: The government of Sikkim, in its notification issued on Friday, announced imposition of increased restrictions to curb the average positivity rate for Covid-19 cases in the state which has continued to be more than 20% in the last few weeks.
The notification appealed for a complete lockdown within the state between May 17 and May 24 with restrictions on the movement of people and vehicles.
State government offices, private commercial establishments, markets, gymnasium, shops including ration outlets, and factories engaged in production of medicines and medical equipment shall also remain closed.
However, the notification clarified that central government organizations would operate as per instructions from the central government and employees of these organizations were allowed to commute to work on production of a valid government identification card.
The movement of people and vehicles engaged in the supply of for essential goods such as milk, vegetables, animal feed, petroleum products, medical supplies, LPG cylinders, pharmaceutical drugs were exempt from the lockdown.
The notification issued by the government was strongly criticized by the people on various social media platforms. Several netizens pointed out that if the ration shops were bound to be closed during this period, allowing movement of vehicles carrying essential items made little sense.
Netizens highlighted that the guidelines prior to the current notification were sensible and alerted that the need of the hour was to prevent panic and instill a sense of courage among the public.
Concerns were also raised that those who earned their livelihood with daily wages were likely to be affected most by the strict lockdown policy.
The notification stated that the police, fire department, hospitals, wildlife and forest department, isolation and vaccination centers, Army and paramilitary forces were exempt from the lockdown.
Passengers boarding from or alighting at Pakyong Airport shall do so on production of valid tickets and a ‘Covid-19 negative’ report indicating a RT-PCR test conducted within 48 hours of arrival or departure. The ten-day mandatory quarantine shall continue to apply to those entering the state.
The delay in implementation of the lockdown has turned into a major concern among the public in the state. The state government is also examining the proposal of exempting media persons from the week-long lockdown.