Yangchen C Rinzin

Except for Thimphu and Paro, people of other dzongkhags that are considered green zone would be allowed to move within the dzongkhag from tomorrow, according to the Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering.

The movement would be allowed only on foot except for utility vehicles. Use of public or private vehicles would be considered if urgent.

This means the lockdown is extended for another one week in Thimphu and Paro.

Lyonchhen, while announcing the phase 1 of smart unlocking, said that with cases still emerging from communities in Thimphu and Paro, the two dzongkhags are still considered red zone.

“Other dzongkhag administrations and thromde can have one day to discuss and decide how to implement the relaxation procedures,” Lyonchhen said. “Slowly dzongkhag taskforces can review and decide on additional relaxations.”

The nationwide lockdown has completed 13 days. Thimphu has completed 16 days of lockdown period.

Unavoidable inter-dzongkhag movements will also be allowed in green zones, but only after obtaining approval of dzongkhag taskforces in green zones.

The government has strategised smart unlocking in phase-wise relaxation and area based on randomised nationwide testing of the disease. Dzongkhags have been classified into red, yellow and green zones.

Lyonchhen said that the continuous restriction in Thimphu and Paro would help contain the spread of virus that has been rampant and avoid spike in positive cases. “Additional relaxation in Thimphu and Paro would be made based on the situation and cases detected for next few days.”

However, people stranded in Thimphu and Paro would be allowed to travel to other dzongkhags in emergency cases and the government will facilitate the movement.

Lyonchhen urged people to register with 1010 and e-pass would be issued following which they will have to visit the specified flu clinic for testing.

“The person must also bring a member of the host family for the test. This is to ensure that there is no virus presence in both stranded person and the resident,” Lyonchhen added.

The details of the person travelling will be shared with local leader of the respective destination dzongkhag. After reaching the destination, local authorities will have to put the person for mandatory 7-day home quarantine. Then another antigen test would be conducted after completion of home quarantine.

“We’ve to have strict protocol and cannot be complacent,” Lyonchhen said. “This is to ensure that virus is not spread from Thimphu or Paro to another dzongkhag where there is no case.”

Although other dzongkhags are considered green zone, technical advisory group has not yet declared some areas within dzongkhags as risk free where cases have been detected. These cases are contacts of earlier cases, and travellers from Thimphu and Paro.

With the indication of presence of disease, these areas are considered yellow zone.

The yellow zones are Lhamoidzingkha Throm in Dagana (5 cases), Domkhar and Chamkhar in Bumthang (9 cases), Phenteykha in Punakha (2 cases), Pelela in Wangduephodrang (1 case), Kela in Trongsa (1 case) and, Katsho and Uesu gewogs in Haa (1 case).

The movement in the yellow zone would be limited to only cardholders. Emergency cases to travel out of the yellow zone will require clearance from the respective taskforce. The travellers must undergo RT-PCR test.

Non-essential shops in yellow zone must remain closed including the construction works. Taskforce will then decide additional relaxations.

People from other dzongkhags will be allowed to travel to yellow zone.

Meanwhile, in the phase 2, which would be implemented after seven days, the health ministry will conduct a randomised sample testing to access the situation in all districts, following which, Lyonchhen said that additional relaxations would be announced.

The 7-day quarantine requirement while travelling from high-risk area will continue.

With 18 cases detected yesterday, there are total of 734 positive cases including 277 local cases. There were 281 active cases and 453 recovered as of yesterday.

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