As the upward trend of COVID-19 infections continued in Jammu and Kashmir, the State Executive Committee (SEC) on Sunday announced exemption of pregnant women employees and those with disabilities from physical attendance in their offices.
The new guidelines, which retained already issued restrictions including weekend lockdown, night curfew and online classes up to college level, were issued after a fresh review of the COVID-19 situation. The SEC, which met under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary A K Mehta, directed district magistrates of respective districts of Jammu and Kashmir to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy towards non-compliance of Covid Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) and ensure due action against the defaulters under relevant sections of the law.
In an order issued this evening, Mehta said the review was conducted to assess overall situation pertaining to the spread of COVID-19, particularly focusing on the total weekly new cases (per million), total positivity rate, bed occupancy, case fatality rate, vaccination coverage of targeted population and the extent of compliance to CAB.
“There is a need for additional measures besides continuing with the existing COVID containment measures in all districts in view of the uneven trend observed in daily Covid cases as well as rising positivity rate,” the order read. Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday recorded 6,253 fresh COVID-19 cases, taking the infection count to 3,97,202, while seven deaths due to the disease pushed the toll to 4,605.
There are 42,866 active cases in the Union Territory, while the number of recoveries stands at 3,49,731. The SEC directed all the offices to regulate the attendance of its employees in such a manner so as to ensure that appropriate social distancing norms are maintained. “Pregnant women employees will be exempted from physical attendance and they shall be allowed to work from home. Employees with disabilities shall also be given the option to work from home,” the order said.
To reduce the rate of transmission within Jammu and Kashmir, the order said all efforts would be made by authorities through active involvement of Panchayati Raj Institutions, community leaders, market associations and federations. The SEC iterated that the maximum number of people permitted to attend any indoor or outdoor gathering will be strictly restricted to 25, while banquet halls in all the districts are permitted to allow gathering up to 25 vaccinated persons (with verifiable RT-PCR or Rapid Antigen Tests not older than 72 hours) or 25 per cent of the authorised capacity (whichever is less), preferably in open spaces.
Cinema halls, theatres, multiplexes, restaurants, clubs, gymnasiums and swimming pools are permitted to function at 25 per cent of the authorised capacity with due precautions such as CAB and adherence to SOP, the order said. As regards the education institutions, it said all colleges, schools, polytechnics, ITIs and coaching centres would continue to adopt online medium of teaching.
The night curfew would continue to remain in force in all districts from 9 pm to 6 am with complete restriction on non-essential movement, the order said, adding there shall also be complete restriction on non-essential movement in the entire Union Territory from every Friday 2 pm to Monday 6 am.
All Deputy Commissioners shall intensify testing and ensure full utilisation of available RT-PCR and RAT capacities, besides all districts shall intensify efforts to ensure timely administering of the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccination. The SEC said the asymptomatic incoming passengers to J&K, carrying a valid and verifiable final certificate report of COVID-19 vaccination or valid RT-PCR negative report taken within 72 hours, shall not be required to undergo RT-PCR or Rapid Antigen COVID-19 test on arrival.
The RT-PCR would, however, be conducted on symptomatic incoming passengers by air, rail and road to Jammu and Kashmir, the order said. It said the inter-state movement of passenger transport of State Road Transport Corporation and stage contract private passenger buses would be permitted for fully vaccinated persons or persons with verifiable RT-PCR not older than 72 hours or based on Rapid Antigen Test on spot with strict compliance of CAB.
The SEC said the entry into parks would continue to be permitted to vaccinated persons only with due verification.