Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh On Monday called on the civil and police administration to remain on high alert and warned that amid the relaxation of lockdown, the risk of an increase in cases of corona virus infection would be a “real test”. Singh also directed the Transport Department to draft a standard operating procedure for resumption of local bus services at places other than prohibited areas. He, however, ruled out the possibility of interstate bus service by 31 May.
He described the “danger of spreading infection as a real test” as people got to meet each other with the relaxation of restrictions. He directed all departments to ensure that there is strict compliance of monitoring coordination and all consultations against Covid-19. He directed the police department to strictly abide by the rules regarding distance from each other and other Covid-19 containment protocols and to impose fines on the exits without putting on masks. The Chief Minister gave these instructions during a video conference organized to review the status of Covid-19 in the state and the ongoing lockdown.
He asked the Transport Department to implement a strict protocol for daily commuters traveling from one place to another. It also said that inter-state buses will start plying from May 31 onwards. Singh made it clear that interstate traffic would be allowed only in special and labor trains till May 31. He said that buses would be allowed to run in the state in a phased manner. An official release issued here said that a list of standard operating procedures including disinfecting buses would be released daily before resuming service in non-prohibited areas.
Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Satish Chandra said that the state will now have only prohibited areas and non-prohibited areas as the Center accepts the state’s request to abolish ‘color coding’. The Chief Minister reiterated his earlier instructions regarding strict compliance with the rule of segregation of migrants, NRIs by continuing train entry into the state by special trains or flights. He said that 60 thousand Punjabis have registered themselves to return to the state so far. He said that 20 thousand NRIs are also expected to return.
The Chief Minister said that the state is voluntarily repatriating migrants and others from other states. The state is spending Rs 7.5 lakh per train. However, other states are not reacting in this way and are asking their government to make arrangements to send Punjabis back from there. The Chief Minister said that out of 11 lakh migrants registering on the special portal of Punjab, more than two lakh migrants have so far left the state. He said that 20 trains are departing from Punjab every day. He said that more trains are needed for Bihar but the state is not ready to take more people at this time as their separate dwelling units are full.