Rajesh Rai

A phase-wise reopening of Phuentsholing has begun from 6am today.

This comes after 18 days since the bordering town went into the third lockdown on April 16. The first phase of lifting the lockdown will conclude on May 10.

Schools, all offices, and financial institutions will remain closed in the first phase.

Movement of people will be allowed within their respective zones as per the movement pass. However, the movement is limited to walking until 7pm.

Only identified retail outlets such as grocery, pharmacy, and beverages will be allowed to open from 8am to 7pm.

Emergency services will also be provided in the hospital. Movement of utility, emergency and authorised vehicles will be allowed.   

Cremation rites can be held with not more than 10 family members in attendance.

Meanwhile, home delivery of grocery items will be discontinued. However, delivery of fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat, wineries, and LPG will continue until May 7.

Although inter-dzongkhag movement will remain restricted, travel of stranded people to other dzongkhags will be facilitated depending on the availability of rooms and on completion of seven-day mandatory facility quarantine in Phuentsholing.

As the relaxation starts, residents are also aware of the imminent risks and the situation in the neighbouring state of West Bengal.

A resident Namgay said it is important to ensure there are no hidden positive cases.

“Concerned authorities also should let us know the source of the virus this time,” he said, adding that people need to know if there were lapses. “It is easy for them to call for lockdown.”

The fact that many duty officials in the hotels were infected, Namgay said it was evident serious lapses had occurred. Otherwise, if the SoPs and protocols were strictly followed, they wouldn’t be infected.

Meanwhile, the lockdown relaxation has come into effect mostly because there weren’t many cases detected from the mass screening that tested more than 8,000 people in nine zones. The three-day mass testing that started on April 30 detected four Covid-19 positive cases.

A resident, Yuraj Gurung said the news of easing lockdown was a big relief. “However, Covid-19 has caused heartache for millions around the world, who have lost their loved ones,” he said.

While people in Phuentsholing have suffered and sacrificed a lot in many ways because of the three lockdowns, Yuraj Gurung said the residents adhere to the protocols and prevent another lockdown.