Dechen Dolkar  

The National Covid-19 task force has extended lockdown in Sarpang, Samdrupjongkhar, and identified areas of Wangduephodrang and Punakha, Panbang, Nganglam and Phuentsholing that are declared red zones, until January 30.

Parts of Kawang and Chang gewogs, and Thimphu thromde; and Paro throm and adjacent gewogs are declared as yellow and will continue with the existing zoning system until January 30, according to a notification from the Prime Minister’s Office issues yesterday.

Residents in these areas can go for walk or cycle within their mega zones at any time between 5am to 6pm. They must carry the card at all times. However, they cannot go from one zone into another.

Essential shops approved by Thimphu thromde can operate between 9am and 6pm.

The other gewogs of Thimphu will be considered green areas.

While all dzongkhags where the government declared ‘blackout’ period have extended the lockdown the notification supersedes these orders issued yesterday.

Gasa, Haa, Samtse, Trongsa, Bumthang, Tsirang, Trashigang, Mongar, Trashiyangtse, Lhuentse, Dagana (except Lhamoidzingkha), Chukha (except Phuentsholing), Pemagatshel (except Nganglam), and Zhemgang (except Panbang) are declared green zones.  

Offices will remain open, and schools and educational institutions that can function in containment mode will be open according to the PMO notification.

Only essential travels between the green areas will be allowed upon approval by incident commanders after obtaining negative antigen test results.

Except for entertainment centres like nightclubs, karaokes, pubs and discotheques, all shops and businesses in green areas can open until 9pm.

Mass gatherings or celebrations, including religious congregations, occasions like birthdays and promotions, and other festive events are not allowed across the country.

No inter-dzongkhag travels are allowed. Unavoidable, essential travels will be subject to approval by the respective incident commanders after ensuring negative antigen test results. The respective dzongdag and superintendent of police will coordinate the travels.

Crematory services will be limited to family members only, and up to the maximum ceiling of 20 heads.

The transfer of dead bodies between dzongkhags is disallowed. However, if people choose to take bodies out of Thimphu to other dzongkhags, it will be permitted and facilitated by the Bhutan Red Cross Society. This is being considered as Thimphu sees the highest number of deaths.

While rimdros and loches may continue, no guests are allowed. Any sort of movement, including that of monks and lay monks, should be strictly confined to the gewog, zones or megazones. No sporting activities are permitted. All international flights are allowed.

The PMO notification states that while the virus has mutated, the efficacy of barrier methods like the use of facemasks and hand washings remains the same. There are evidence and global trends where disregard for such practices have resulted in exponential growth in the number of cases, increasing risks of spread and morbidities.

“If there is a time in one’s life to be true to oneself, to genuinely serve our nation with the belief that one has the responsibility and power to protect the community, and act accordingly, it is now,” Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said.

Meanwhile, enhanced surveillance will be carried out across the country.