Ruling out the possibility of a lockdown in the state, the Himachal Pradesh government on Friday said that it will also not impose night curfews or will make RTPCR tests mandatory for visitors as has been done in many states across the country amid a spurt in Covid-19 cases.
This is despite the state witnessing a sudden spike in Covid-19 cases and the state's health department admitting that the next 10 to 15 days are very crucial.
A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with chief ministers of all states, the state’s cabinet held a meeting on Friday in Shimla. The cabinet noted that the number of active cases in Himachal has risen from 3221 to 4180 in the past week and a total of 52 deaths have been reported in just one month.
“The cabinet passed restricted orders to the state’s health department and DCs to enforce Covid restrictions effectively”, said minister for urban development and housing Suresh Bhardwaj.
The only new measure taken to curb the spread of the virus is the closure of the educational institutions till April 21.
Earlier, educational institutions, both private and government, were closed till April 15.
The government has decided to go ahead with celebrations of the ‘Himachal Day' function, both at the state district levels.
The BJP is seeing the occasion of the 50th year of Himachal’s statehood as a political opportunity to encash.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur will preside over the ‘Himachal Day’ function at Mandi—a town where for the first time BJP has won the local Municipal Corporation election. Cabinet ministers and Speaker Vipin Singh Parmar will preside over district-level functions in all rest 11 districts.
Mandi, which is also Chief Minister’s home district, holds political significance as it is the second-largest district in the state.
The decision, in a way, contradicts the ban on all social, religious, and political gatherings and reducing the number of persons to 50 for all indoor functions including weddings.
Initially, the health department had proposed the state government to impose a complete ban on gatherings, enforcement of partial lockdown of hotspot districts, and make RT-PCR tests mandatory for those coming from the eight states with the highest caseload.
But, after the Prime Minister suggested against a lockdown, the BJP government in Himachal has chosen not to impose any restrictions on mobility in the state that would adversely impact tourism and other economic activities.
“The tourism industry had suffered a big blow in 2020 due to lockdown. The industry is seeing a revival. Thus, we are not in favour of lockdown”, said chief minister Jai Ram Thakur.
Himachal reported a massive spike on Thursday in the districts of Kangra, Una, Solan, and Shimla. The total number of cases reported was 567.