As widely expected, the Odisha government has extended its partial lockdown owing to the persisting coronavirus pandemic until July 16, although with some much appreciated additional relaxations.
While making the announcement before the press, Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra stated that all shops in the 10 Category B districts of the state, where the total positivity rate (TPR) is still higher than 5 percent, shall now have permission to remain open from 6 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon.
The twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack fall under this category, which is presently comprised of the districts of Khordha, Cuttack, Puri, Bhadrak, Balasore, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Mayurbhanj, Nayagarh and Kendrapara.
In these districts, weekend shutdowns and night curfews will continue, bus transport will remain suspended, movie theatres and malls shall remain shut, jatras will still not be permitted, and weekly haats (markets) will not be allowed to resume.
However, with the latest relaxations, stand-alone barber shops can now open shop during the 6am-2pm time period, street vendors can finally begin doing business with permission to only serve takeaway food, and outdoor shooting has also been allowed to resume with strict adherence to Covid-19 safety rules.
Meanwhile, in the other 20 Category A districts of the state – Angul, Bargarh, Balangir, Boudh, Dhenkanal, Deogarh, Gajapati, Ganjam, Jharsuguda, Kandhamal, Kalahandi, Keonjhar, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, Nuapada, Rayagada, Sambalpur, Subarnapur and Sundargarh – where the TPR is lower than 5 percent, the scene is far brighter.
All shops (except those in malls, as well as spas and beauty salons) will be allowed to stay open from 6 in the morning to 6 in the evening.
There will be no imposition of weekly shutdowns, while both daily and weekly haats will be open conditional upon Covid-appropriate conduct and dispersed seating arrangements.
Street vendors in these districts will continue their business as before, with permission to serve take-away food only. Public transport by buses shall also continue with strict adherence to pandemic guidelines and are prohibited from taking on board more passengers than their seating capacity. Also, both outdoor and indoor shootings will be allowed.
However, night curfew, the usual restrictions on social occasions such as weddings and funerals, shall remain in effect across the state.