Yangyel Lhaden

Has movement restriction after 7pm due to Covid-19 contributed to improving family environment? In urban Bhutan, many say it has. But then, almost the same proportion of urbanites believe that movement restriction could, in fact, be the leading cause of tension in the families.

The government on April 14 imposed movement restriction as part of measure to reduce the risks of community transmission of the pandemic. Shops, restaurants and all public places should close by 7pm. Unnecessary gatherings are being strictly monitored and discouraged.

Officials of National Commission for Women and Children said that movement restriction could have given rise to domestic violence.

Tshering Zangmo, a civil servant, said that restriction of movement allowed her to spend more quality time with her family. She would otherwise be hanging out with her friends late into the night. Now she sometimes goes to collect wild asparagus with her husband and children.

“Being able to be together is wonderful,” she said. “I have realised that spending quality time is critically important, especially with children.”

Chimi Zangmo of Jichu Drakey Bakery said that restriction of movement had positive impact on her family. In urban areas, family members had different working schedule, she said. “We can now sit together for meals. We get to know a lot about our lives.”

Monita Mongar, a Class 12 graduate said that with nowhere to go after 7pm, she was tutoring her niece and nephew.

Phurpa Zangmo, 22, a mother of two, said that her three-year-old son was getting used to his father coming home early.

She said that her husband would come home late and drunk. Not anymore.

Jamyang Phuntsho, 28, said that with bars closing early neighbourhood had become very peaceful.

Sherab Zangmo, 35, mother of three children, said that her husband and children now were coming home early. “Some sort of discipline has returned in my family,” she said. “And I am very happy about it, of course. Sometimes I feel that movement restriction should continue.”

Tshering, 52, said that her business wasn’t doing well but with movement restriction she was getting the much-needed rest. Her daughter Kencho Wangmo, said that movement restriction was government’s gift to workaholic people. “I can hardly meet my mother otherwise.”

Tshering said that her family played monopoly board game and UNO after dinner.