Dzongkhags begin zoning systems easing lockdown

Kuensel reporters 

Most of the dzongkhags have begun implementation of zoning and issued movement cards to allow villagers and residents of towns to resume regular basic activities.

The government on August 21 announced its decision to allow movement of individuals within their gewogs across the country.

As directed by the national zoning task force, the dzongkhag Covid-19 taskforces have prohibited the movement of vehicle and people from one gewog to another. Movement of unauthorised people and vehicles from gewogs to throm and from throm to gewogs is restricted.

In the towns, shopkeepers must ensure there is Druk Trace QR code or registration of customer at the shop. People who have been asked to self or home quarantine are not allowed to move.

At any point in time, only one customer should be allowed inside the shop. Queuing of people should be outside the shop. All shoppers have to wear face masks and wash their hands before entering the shops.

Bumthang

Those living in villages along the east-west highway are prohibited from moving about freely.

Gewog officials will monitor the implementation of the zoning rules. Movement is strictly for essential item supplies, health services and farming activities.

Only authorised hotels along the east-west highway are allowed to open. Except for the authorised essential item suppliers, shops in towns remain closed. All shopkeepers must wear facemasks, keep hand sanitisers at the entrance of shops.

Officials would monitor the implementation of these conditions which are being implemented in phases from today. Anyone found violating the rules shall be dealt as per the relevant laws.

Chukha 

Phuentsholing Thromde’s executive secretary Lungten Jamtsho said the zoning proposal has been forwarded that to MoWHS and NLC.

“It is done as per the plan but it is not yet through,” he said.

However, the executive secretary said that the zoning “may not be implemented immediately” as Phuentsholing remains a red zone.

“Right now mass testing is underway and until the results are declared, we cannot implement,” Lungten Jamtsho said.

Senior dzongrab of Chukha dzongkhag, Sherub Dorji said the draft of the plan was finalised yesterday.

“But we have to consult with the local leaders now,” he said. “Once the consultation happens, then, the implementation won’t take much time.”

Gasa

With the completion of identification of zones and distribution of cards, the Gasa dzongkhag Covid-19 task force will also implement the zoning system today.

Until yesterday, 452 cards were issued to people of Khatoed and Khamoed gewogs.

In Gasa, eight zones were identified – two each in Lunana and Laya, three in Khamoed and Khatoed.

The timing of movement also varies for different location depending on the proximity of a house to the Gasa town.

In Laya and Lunana, individuals will be allowed to move out freely. However, De-Suups will ensure that health safety protocols are followed.

Seven grocery and vegetable shops in Gasa town will open between 8am and 6pm.

Movement within the zones is also prohibited unless the individual has to pass through the area while visiting to buy essential items.

Haa

Haa dzongkhag began easing of the lockdown yesterday permitting movement of people in their zones. The dzongkhag taskforce has divided the zoning into two parts: five gewogs and Kartshog, and Haa throm.

The five gewogs of Haa-Bje, Uesu, Samar, Gakiling and Sangbaykha- are categorised as low-risk zone, as the gewogs are located afar and have a minimum connection to Haa town, which is considered as a high- risk zone.

Haa Dzongdag Kinzang Dorji said that people could move around and watch the flower exhibition in their zones, but people were asked to follow the health protocol strictly.

Cardholders can go out within their zone between 9am to 5pm.

All groceries stores, including farm stores, bakery, pharmacies, and garments shops in Haa town will open.

Mongar

Mongar implemented zoning and movement cards in its core town yesterday afternoon. Only a few residents turned up for shopping.

While on the movement card, the timing is reflected as three hours, the dzongkhag Covid-19 taskforce decided to allow the residents to move inside their areas for two hours on trial.

Mongar is divided into four zones and the task force is in the process of printing the cards for the remaining three zones.

Officials said they would finish distributing all the 900 cards in the four zones today morning and begin to implementation by afternoon. However, vegetables and dairy products would be delivered to homes. Similarly, most of the gewogs have also started zoning restricted to their chiwogs. There are seven grocery shops identified to open in the core town zone.

Paro 

The dzongkhag is yet to implement the zoning system. Given the fact that the dzongkhag has recorded Covid-19 positive cases, the dzongkhag administration announced that the lockdown would remain.

The dzongkhag is a high alert zone after five tested positive for Covid-19. 

Paro Dzongdag Tenzin Thinley said that although the dzongkhag had zoning plans and protocols ready, due to the positive cases from different areas, the dzongkhag administration faced some difficulty with the buffer zone.

He said that the final draft was ready and it will be submitted for review. “The zoning will begin in about three days.”

Farmers can continue with farming activities and cattle herding. But there must not be more than five people working together in the fields. Grocery shops in the gewogs can open with strict health safety protocols.

Pemagatshel 

Card distribution begins today in Pemagatshel town which is divided into three zones- town area, buffer zone and gewog zone.

Movement for cardholders is allowed for three hours in two shifts a day: 9am-12pm and 2- 5pm. Only one movement card would be issued to a household in the respective zone and vehicle movements are not allowed.

The dzongkhag lifted the lockdown in the gewogs yesterday, and people are allowed to move within the gewog. However, people should seek permission from the Incident Commander (IC) if people need to move from another gewog to another gewog and would approve if it is genuine.

Punakha

Punakha dzongkhag administration identified five zones in urban areas. Of the five, two are in Khuruthang, two in Lobesa and one near the Punakha dzong.

The dzongkhag officials are going deliberate further on the timing of different areas which would be between 8am to 7pm in urban areas.

However, the dzongkhag will further deliberate on entire system and make changes accordingly.

Samdrupjongkhar 

Meanwhile, the Samdrupjongkhar Covid-19 task force would discuss the demarcation or zoning in the thromde and town areas, and implement soon while the movement in the gewogs were allowed yesterday.

People in the gewogs can move out for shopping and carry out farming works within the gewog. “People are not allowed to move to another gewogs until further notification,” an official said.

Sarpang

The dzongkhag is yet to implement the zoning system. However, the relaxation in movement within gewogs, for construction and purchasing of essentials has begun.

Gelephu town is divided into five different zones and there are three buffer zones that share border with the thromde such as Pelrithang, Pemathang and Lekithang.

The task force will have to distribute over 12, 000 cards to the residents living within designated zones and buffer zones. No cards will be issued to the gewogs.

Thimphu

“Within the thromde’s 15 zones, there are 44 small zones and also 12 self-contained zones.  Armed forces colony, IMTRAT, Ministers’ residence colony, among others fall under self-contained zones. They are responsible to look after their own zones,” a thromde official said.

“Whatever is allowed, it is allowed only within that particular zone as per the standard operating procedure. For example, going shopping or for a short walk. All the zoning related information is given in the thromde’s Facebook page,” said the official.

Zoning task force’s toll-free number is 1010. But people are getting confused since every agency has set up its own toll-free number. The task force’s toll-free number is inundated with calls on other matters.

The zoning system is being replicated in the dzongkhags after its success in the thromde.

Trashigang 

The dzongkhag Covid-19 task force started movement card distribution to residing in and around Trashigang Throm yesterday.

Cardholders are given four hours a day to shop and walk.

The movement card implementation begins today. 

Tsirang

With the implementation of the zoning system in Damphu, Tsirang since evening yesterday, the town has come back to life with residents coming out and buying essentials. In the core town areas, some came out on walks.

Tsirang Covid-19 task force has demarcated three zones in and around the town.

With cardholders, 243 in Zone 1, 458 in Zone 2 and 196 in Zone 3, the TaskForce divided them into four groups in each zone and allotted four different time periods since 9am to 8pm.

Movement for cardholders was allotted two-hour time period and an individual could walk around and shop from identified shops in their respective zones.

The TaskForce is also urging people moving out to use Druktrace Apps or register their details on the log book.

Wangdue

In Wangdue, enumeration of the households and individuals are complete. While the demarcation of the zones has begun, the dzongkhag will take some more days to confirm the zones and to implement. Along with the zones, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) are also being developed.

Punakha Covid-19 task force has identified five zones in urban areas: two in Khuruthang, two in Lobesa and one near Punakha dzong. The task force will further deliberate on the timing of movement. The movement timing is expected to be between 8am and 7pm in urban areas.

However, the dzongkhags will further deliberate on the zoning in the coming days and make changes accordingly.

 

Zhemgang

In what could be a relief to small shop owners in Zhemgang, the Covid-19 task force has decided to let them open starting today on the alternate days.

Small shop owners were sharing their concerns, as they couldn’t sell any goods during the lockdown. Now that the lockdown is relaxed, all would be given chance, according to Zhemgang dzongdag Lobzang Dorji.

The dzongkhag implements movements within designated areas in both Zhemgang town and in Tingtibi from today. The whole Zhemgang town and its catchment areas are divided into four different zones.

All shops selling essential items would be allowed to open as per the routine prepared by the taskforce. Movement in the Zhemgang town is allowed for two hours for a cardholder.

The zoning in the gewog level is done based on the chiwogs. The movement relaxation has begun at the gewog level for the past two days. 

While plans are made to ease lockdown in the gewogs, the dzongkhag administration is also collecting details related to minors, elderly, and other vulnerable groups in the dzongkhag.

Should the dzongkhag face a health situation in the future help would reach to them swiftly, the dzongdag said.

Dagana dzongkhag task force has demarcated a zone for Daga town and two for Dagapela town. The implementation of the zoning system is yet to begin.

Other dzongkhags are at various levels of preparation and implementation.

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