Govt. closes movie halls, bans team sports, urges people to remain home

Tshering Palden

Restricting any kind of gathering, the Central Monastic Body has instructed all heads of monasteries and monastic schools to conduct their annual tshechus (religious festivals) without dances and cultural items.

“You are to conduct only the rituals and religious ceremonies indoors,” secretary of Zhung Dratshang Karma Tshering Namgyal wrote in the letter issued on March 25.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering yesterday said gatherings for religious purposes are discouraged given the fact that countries have experienced outbreaks from such events.

The government placed restrictions on team sports, any sort of gathering, closed movie theatres, snooker rooms and video parlours, and ordered business entities to ensure customers maintain physical distance.

“All business entities must adjust timing and engage employees in a way that there is no crowding,” Lyonchhen said.

“While open-air shows are disallowed, television programmes must be modified for participants to observe the physical distance.”

Gathering at any social events like birthday, wedding or promotion are disallowed. Picnics or similar outdoor functions are prohibited.

“All congregations at work, official dinners, functions or gatherings at workplace eateries are discouraged,”

Individuals are required to maintain physical distance from the rest at grocery outlets, vegetable markets, fuel depots or other public places. While in line to avail of services like banking or hospital, individuals are required to maintain physical distance.

Lyonchhen said that until yesterday the government was requesting people on these measures.

“Hereon, there is no choice but for everyone to comply,” he said.

“As we strive to stay ahead of the spread of coronavirus, with His Majesty The King’s guidance, the government has introduced the highest level of preventive measures all along,” Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said. This included recent closure of all border gates early this week.

A press release from the Prime Minister’s Office stated that reinforced by an efficient containment system, the government was making efforts to come out of the pandemic with the slightest burden on the people of Bhutan.

“Stepping up the arrangements, and acknowledging the importance of minimising contacts among people as an effective fight against Covid-19, the government puts forward the restraints to prevent the spread of the disease.”

Lyonchhen said that relevant authorities and agencies would act on the instructions with immediate effect.

Agencies are encouraged to use technology for meetings and correspondence of all kinds.

In such emergencies, Lyonchhen said, “We have no doubt everyone has to shoulder the immense workload. We are all expected to work beyond normal office hours.”

In such times a public servant should be guilt-ridden if he or she is not contributing or is not fully engaged. “Irrespective of where you are working from, you must come forward and make the most of your time,” Lyonchhen said.

He said that individual responsibilities in pursuing these actions are highly appreciated and would have a lasting impact on the government’s efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country as well as beyond.

However, given the fact that there is no room for complacency at this time, those who don’t abide by the instructions will be dealt with strong legal action.

The government would monitor and update the instructions in keeping with evolving situations on the ground.