Jammu: The J&K government on Sunday, in a phased easing of restrictions, reduced the duration of night curfew by three hours in the districts with positivity rate below 0.2 percent.
It also allowed the banquet halls in such districts to have an enhanced limit of maximum gathering of 50. However this permission would be available only “for vaccinated persons with verifiable RT-PCR or RAT not older than 72 hours.”
Besides, it also permitted limited in-person teaching of vaccinated students in Polytechnics and ITIs.
In the same breath, the government also hinted at the possibility of “additional restrictions” in case of slackness in the observance of Covid Appropriate Behaviour (CAB).
The order in this connection was issued today by the Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta, who is also the chairperson State Executive Committee (SEC) of J&K Department of Disaster Management, Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.
“Enforcement of Covid Appropriate Behaviour is critical in determining the need for additional restrictions. DMs shall constitute inspection teams of district officers to check whether the instructions for enforcement of COVID appropriate behaviour are being implemented by the concerned with due responsibility,” Mehta instructed.
Reiterating that the maximum number of people permitted to attend any indoor or outdoor gathering would be strictly restricted to 25, he, however, offered few concessions for the districts with below 0.2 positivity rate. “In Banquet halls in districts with positivity rate below 0.2 and weekly case load below 250, gathering shall be permitted up to an enhanced limit of 50, for vaccinated persons with verifiable RT-PCR or RAT not older than 72 hours. All District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police shall ensure compliance,” he ordered.
In yet another concession for such districts, Mehta directed, “The night curfew shall continue to remain in force in all districts from 8 pm to 7 am but for those districts with positivity rate below 0.2 and weekly case load below 250, where it would be from 10 pm to 6 am.”
On the educational front, he permitted “limited in-person teaching of vaccinated students, not exceeding 50 percent on any given day, in Polytechnics and ITIs subject to consent of parents and students and all measures as per Covid related protocols.”
The SEC generally maintained the status quo with regard to its guidelines issued last week for educational institutions, texcept that in case of class 12th students it directed that “proper screening regarding vaccination should be done on the school gate.”
The schools, except for relaxations as provided for students of 12th and 10th classes, would continue to remain closed for on-site/in-person teaching.
As per new SEC guidelines, in districts with higher number of cases or vaccination percentage lower than UT average, the vaccination drive would be given special attention and monitored on a daily basis by concerned Divisional Commissioner to substantially enhance the vaccination rate.
It reiterated that in view of the high incidence of cases in district Srinagar, a special campaign would be organised to “substantially increase vaccination coverage and achieve the target of 100 percent first dose within the earliest possible time.”
It further reiterated that the vaccination or all those connected with functioning of educational institutions or coaching centres would be accorded priority in the drives presently underway in all the districts.
Mehta reiterated that the classes for 12th standard would be permitted with “limited in-person teaching not exceeding 50 percent on a given day, for vaccinated students and staff.” The order specified that the consent should be obtained from the parents of all students, willing to attend the school. “Proper screening regarding vaccination should be done at the school gate. If any student or teacher or other school staff shows symptoms of cough, cold, or fever, they will not be allowed to enter the school,” he directed.
With regard to class 10 students also, it was reiterated that limited in-person teaching of students of 10th class, not exceeding 50 percent on any given day and “after ensuring compliance with Covid Appropriate Behaviour by the school authorities, can be permitted by concerned Deputy Commissioners after due screening through 100 percent Rapid Antigen Test or RT-PCR, subject to consent of parents and students.” The schools would strictly follow Covid related protocols, it added.
Similarly for coaching centres, there was no change in guidelines as Mehta ordered, “Coaching centres for Civil Services/Engineering/NEET shall be permitted with limited in-person teaching, for fully vaccinated staff and student, subject to condition that the Head of the centre shall ensure that the guidelines related to social distancing and Covid protocols are adhered to.”
All other coaching centres, except them (Coaching centres for Civil Services/Engineering/NEET) would continue to remain closed for onsite or in-person teaching.
Mehta reiterated that higher educational institutions would be permitted to commence limited in-person teaching subject to 100 percent vaccination of staff and students and specific permission of concerned Deputy Commissioners.
“Such institutions can organise special vaccination camps in consultation with district administration. The Head of these institutions must ensure that the guidelines related to social distancing and Covid protocols are adhered to. Educational institutions shall be permitted to direct attendance of vaccinated staff for administrative purposes only,” he further instructed.
However, there would be no weekend curfew in any district.
“At entry point to UT of J&K at Lakhanpur, mandatory testing for COVID shall be dispensed with for those who have received both doses of vaccine. Entry into parks shall be permitted to vaccinated persons only with due verification,” he reiterated.
The State Executive Committee, in exercise of the powers conferred upon it under Section 24 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, further ordered that the guidelines or instructions on Covid containment in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir already notified vide Government Orders 35 and 36 — JK (DMRRR) of 2021 dated May 29, 2021 read with Government Order 67 - JK (DMRRR) of 2021 dated September 12, 2021 would continue to remain in force till further orders.
As per the order, new guidelines for pandemic containment were issued after a detailed review of the current Covid situation in Jammu and Kashmir was conducted by the Chief Secretary, J&K with Additional Chief Secretary (ACS), Finance; ACS Health and Medical Education; Principal Secretary Home; Divisional Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners, Superintendents of Police and other officers of Jammu and Kashmir on September 17, 2021.
“Whereas it was observed that there’s a need to continue with the existing Covid containment measures in all districts in view of the uneven trend observed in the daily cases,” SEC noted.
It asserted that all Deputy Commissioners would intensify testing by making optimum use of available RT-PCR and RAT capacities. There would be no drop in testing levels.
SEC ordered that an intensive vaccination drive would be taken up in all districts to ensure timely administration of second dose besides maximizing first dose to vulnerable groups. “Positive cases detected as a result of intensive testing need to be isolated or quarantined at the earliest and their contacts should also be traced at the earliest, and similarly isolated or quarantined and tested if needed,” it instructed.
While reiterating its instructions for the District Magistrates (DMs), the SEC noted in the new guidelines that they (DMs) would strictly ensure full compliance to Covid Appropriate Behaviour and the defaulters were firmly dealt with under relevant sections of the Disaster Management Act and the Indian Penal Code.