Meghalaya government on Friday decided to extend the total lockdown in East Khasi Hills district by another one week to contain the spread of COVID-19 even as 20 percent of non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen across the state.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the state Cabinet held at Jowai, the district headquarters of West Jaintia Hills.
“The lockdown will continue in East Khasi Hills – the district where the number (of cases) are highest as of today – by another one week (till June 20),” Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma told reporters.
Stating that the numbers are coming down in certain districts, Sangma however said, “But we still cannot let our guards down as we still have not come down below the danger level.”
He continued therefore most of the districts will continue with the lockdown but the cabinet has given the power to the deputy commissioners to decide on this depending upon the local situation.
The chief minister said that the decision has also come with a rider taking into account that the state government understands that the livelihoods of the people are being affected due to COVID-19 containment measures.
“In view of this, the cabinet has decided to allow up to 20 percent of non-essential commodities to be opened in different areas of the state but that will be decided by the respective deputy commissioners,” he announced.
He said the deputy commissioners will also have the powers to not allow any markets to open in case they feel that the situation is not conducive for the non-essential shops to be opened.
Sangma further informed that the deputy commissioners are also allowed to permit plying of commercial vehicles up to 20 per cent depending upon the COVID-19 positivity rate in their respective districts.
He reiterated that public gatherings will continue to be disallowed.
On the other hand, the chief minister said that the cabinet has also recommended that some degree of strict lockdown in West Jaintia Hills district should continue as the positivity rate is above the roof as of today.
Urging the cooperation of the people of West Jaintia Hills in order to overcome the situation, Sangma said, “It may be tough for all of you… at least in the next one week or 10 days it will be very difficult but we ask for your cooperation so that we can save lives and control the overall situation and we can defeat this virus.”
He also maintained that the government will not be able to open up economic activities in West Jaintia Hills due to the prevailing situation. Sangma however assured, “that once the numbers go down definitely those economic activities will slowly be relaxed but at this point in time it is not possible.”