Gangtok, March 24: The State Government of Sikkim on Monday, announced the decision of implementing a complete lockdown in the entire state. This lockdown will begin from 25 March 6:00 A.M till 31 March. Since many had been requesting the Government for a lockdown, this news comes as a relief to them.
The lockdown will put a complete ban on the movement of all non-government vehicles and two-wheelers. The government offices will function with skeletal staff strength and all commercial establishments in the entire state shall be closed. But the following have been exempted:
- Law enforcement agencies, Police, Armed Forces and Para-Military Forces.
- Health Services and their transportation.
- Electricity, Water and Sanitation Services of Urban Local Bodies and Conservancy Services.
- Fire, Civil Defense & Emergency Services.
- Telecom, Internet and Postal Services.
- Banks and ATMs.
- Shops for PDS, groceries, vegetable, fruits, meat, fish, bread & milk, and medicine and the services for storage and transportation of required items. These shops will be opened from 9:00 A.M to 8:00 P.M.
- Petrol pumps, LPG cylinders, oil agencies and Sikkim Milk Union and its outlets and their godowns and transportation.
- Private Clinics, pharmaceutical manufacturing, medical equipment manufacturing, and transportation.
- Commissioned Power generation projects and their transportation.
- Print, electronic and social media and their transportation.
- Animal and cattle field and their transportation.
- Manufacturing units engaged in the production of essential commodities not specified above, with the permission of the Government.
- Any other production and manufacturing units requiring continuous process may continue after obtaining prior approval of the Government.
As per the notice, there has also been a complete ban put on inter-state movement through Rangpo Check Post of private vehicles, buses, taxis, two-wheelers expect for vehicles engaged in law enforcement, emergency services/ cases and supply of essential commodities (food, grains, ration, medicine, milk etc.) with immediate effect.
In addition, government vehicles, private vehicles and taxis shall be allowed to leave Sikkim only in cases of emergency after showing necessary permits issued by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate or the Block Development Officer. As for the people crossing the Rangpo Check Post shall be allowed only in emergency cases.
Until the lockdown, the earlier notice for the odd-even numbered vehicles will be followed.
All employees and labourers of industries, under-construction projects, commercial establishments, hotels, restaurants, and manufacturing units shall not be allowed to leave the State during this period of lockdown. People have also been strictly advised to stay home and come out only for basic services while strictly following the social distancing guidelines.
All foreign returnees and other such persons so required by Health Department authorities are directed to remain under strict home quarantine or facility quarantine for a period as decided by local Health authorities. Any person refusing to cooperate with the directions of the Health authorities shall be prosecuted u/s 188 and 270 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 in addition to the breach of this order.
The above order shall come into immediate effect in the entire state of Sikkim and shall remain valid until 31 March or till further notice.
The Government of Sikkim’s Home Department has also released a circular dated 23/03/2020 as a set of instructions to govern the working of all government offices, till 31 March:
- All secretaries/HoDs and HoOs shall ensure that the offices are operated with the Skeletal staff Strength, to maintain the functional level working of their offices and to ensure that all-important works are promptly attended to, Others may be advised to stay at home and be able for any exigencies, on mobile and through electronic means of communication. The deployment of staff and officers may be done on rotational basis and a roster of staff on duty and required to be present in the office, day-wise, may be prepared and brought to the notice of all concerned in advance.
- All Secretaries, Heads of Departments and officers shall ensure that they and all gazetted officers remain in the station and are at all times available on their phones. They shall not leave the place of posting without prior permission of HoD/HoO.
- Similar instructions are issued for and applicable for field officers, PSUs/ autonomous bodies/ Societies and Boards under the administrative control of the Secretaries/ HoDs.
- These instructions, however, shall not apply to the offices and employees engaged in essential/ emergency services and those who are concerned with or directly engaged in taking measures to control the spread of COVID-19.
The decision of a complete lockdown came a day after the Central Government, on Sunday announced the lockdown of 75 districts under states like Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu etc. The Sikkimese people have responded to this lockdown quite positively and believe that a complete lockdown is absolutely essential to combat the spread of the coronavirus in the state.
While Sikkim hasn’t reported any confirmed cases the general public seems to be cautious since the news of 100 quarantined and one in isolation in West Sikkim broke.