Yangchen C Rinzin

Learning from the first lockdown, the zoning taskforce, after seeking advice from the Technical Advisory Group (TAG), has decided to allow people to come out to buy essentials and vegetables directly from identified shops in their respective zones.

Unlike in the first lockdown, TAG has advised zoning taskforce to activate zoning system. The idea is that it is safer to come out to shop instead of delivering essentials and vegetables centrally.

Head of the Office of Performance Management under His Majesty’s Secretariat (HMS), Karma Yonten, said that the lockdown this time was different with many positive cases from various location, which is why, for the safety of people, it was decided to let only identified shops to open.

However, people should strictly follow health protocols like wearing face mask all the time, wash hands, use sanitisers, use Druk Trace App and maintain social distance at all times.

“For safety, we’ve made it pre-requisite for all shopkeepers to do the test before opening shops,” he said. “It would be riskier to do delivery like earlier, as it was challenging and there is a risk of spreading the virus from one zone to another.

Once the test is complete and the result is negative, the shopkeepers would be given a card that they must display to the customers.

To avoid criss-cross of zones, Karma Yonten said that if the employees of shop live in the same super zone, DeSuups would escort the workers to go to shop and back home. He added that if employers live in different zones city bus would be arranged for pick and drop service.

“We request shopkeepers and employees that when they are home, they must take all safety measures before touching anything in the house,” Karma Yonten said. “We would advise, if possible, to stay in a separate room from families.”

While people living in the red zone would be allowed to move out to buy essentials, people living in the same building where positive cases are detected should call 1009 to order essentials. DeSuup in special personal protective equipment (PPE) would ensure the delivery of goods.

Older people or persons with disability who cannot come out to buy essentials owing to various reasons can call 1009 and thromde would help in the delivery.

Karma Yonten said that despite several positive cases, the taskforce was going ahead with the opening of a zoning system because TAG was confident that if people follow the safety protocols, it will be manageable. “This would aid in containing the virus by containing the movement of people.”

About 250 shops that have all the essential items available are identified in Thimphu. Shopkeepers were tested yesterday and the results are not out yet.

Thimphu Thrompon Kinlay Dorjee said that shops that sell essentials and vegetables were expected to open in respective zones by today.

Thrompon said that although more than 600 shops had registered, 250 shops were identified based on the lucky draw. “Although the zoning system requires to open temporary shops where there are no shops in the identified zones, for now, we’ve not come across such case.”

He added that some of the shopkeepers did not turn up for test yesterday. They will not be allowed to open from today. “If there is a requirement for additional shops in the zone, we’ll identify them from the remaining registered shops.”

There are 44 zones and 11 containment zones in Thimphu Thromde.

Karma Yonten said that people are advised to carry the same movement card distributed in the first lockdown. However, the timing of the movement has been changed.

The timings are from 9am to 11am in the morning, from 12pm to 2pm in the afternoon, and 3pm to 5pm in the evening.

“We request people to follow the revised timing strictly, only one person from the household can come out carrying the movement card, and don’t trespass another zone,” Karma Yonten said. “If a person has lost the card or damaged or have shifted to a new zone, should call 1010 and register for the movement card.”

He said that people must be honest and request for a new card only if it is genuine and those who are literate can also register through www.desuung.org.bt  “We’ll try to deliver the card by today. They must understand that printing of cards takes a lot of resources and incur expenses so, we’re doing this based on trust.”