… triggers public outcry

Phub Dem 

With the completion of exams on Saturday and preparation for phase two, the government announced a four-week transition period until fully lifting the movement restriction. 

The transition timeline to the new phase began yesterday by allowing movement within the zones without cards and within chiwogs and gewogs. Bakeries, stationery, hardware and pan shops whose owners reside 

in the same zone can open. The businesses can operate until 7pm. 

A week later, residents can move within their respective mega zones, and routine specialist health clinics will be established in the mega zones. Takeaway restaurants can operate until 7pm. 

All offices can operate fully from April 11, and schools will start their academic session from April 25. 

However, many are disheartened and frustrated by the announcement from the Prime Minister’s Office issued on March 12. Many had expected that the government would lift the restrictions altogether. 

They took to social media to pour out their frustrations about how the government failed to revive the shattered economy and focused only on zero death. Some questioned the increasing Covid-19 positive cases from the community despite the movement restriction for weeks. 

Many requested the government either to place the dzongkhag with community cases under a complete lockdown or reopen entirely. 

“The virus underwent many alterations, but the same protocol containing the virus is not working. The government needs to find a way beyond lockdown to contain the virus,” one wrote. 

Most said that the extension of the restrictions was challenging, especially for daily wage earners, small businesses and private employees. 

A private employee, Tashi said that people had been cooperating with the government since the pandemic outbreak, but the government failed to understand and consider the ground reality while framing the strategies. 

He said businesses are losing their income, tenants worry about rent payments, and private employees are laid off or salaries slashed. “The government should take into consideration the opinions and situation of everyone.” 

Another business owner asked if the government has plans to navigate the lockdown phase and revive the business and help those laid-off employees. 

There were also those who took the strategies positively, applauding the government for the cautious unlocking amid the rising cases in some dzongkhags, including Thimphu. They shared their concern about the relaxation as it was risky for the unvaccinated and vulnerable population. 

Phuntsho Tshering, a corporate employee, said, whatever decision the government made must have been decided by the experts to ensure the safety of the people. He said that residents of Phuentsholing stayed in lockdown for more than 100 days last year, and it has only been 19 days for the capital under lockdown. “Thimphu’s residents are impatient.”