Paro relaxes lockdown outside towns

Phub Dem | Paro 

With no new Covid-19 cases for a week, residents in buffer zones and gewogs in Paro started moving out of their homes yesterday.

Except for farmers working in the fields and herding cattle, there was no rush in stores nor people loitering in the open space.

Jitsiphu, which is the hub for shoppers in Tsento gewog, saw only a few customers.

Khandu Wangmo rushed to a nearby grocery store to buy some goods for her four-year-old child. She said that it was convenient to visit the shops and buy the required things rather than ordering it through service delivery.

“As service delivery is only for essential goods, we don’t get the things as per our desire.”

Besides, another resident said that it usually took two to three days for the ordered goods to reach home. “Easing the lockdown has been of immense help.”

Paro dzongkhag administration distributed movement cards to residents in the buffer zone on Wednesday.

However, movement card is not distributed in Tshongdue town along with high alert zone—Bonday, Chang Mendi and Woochu.

Paro Dzongdag Tenzin Thinley said, “Considering the population density and five positive cases from these areas, the place still remains a high-risk zone.”

He said that the dzongkhag would allow movement in the town area only after the health ministry and government declare it safe.

The dzongkhag is divided into three zones: town, buffer zones, and gewogs.

Chiwogs that are adjacent to the town zone and share boundaries with the area are identified as a buffer zone.

Each individual in the buffer zones is allowed to move around their zone for three hours. The movement duration is divided into morning, afternoon and evening starting from 8am to 7pm.

Movement of the individuals from the same building will have different timing.

Except for farm works and cattle herding, movement between gewogs is restricted.

Only a member from each household in gewogs is allowed to move from 9 am to 5pm. But it is limited to a maximum of five people working in the fields in a group.

Paro dzongdag said that the gewog officials, along with Food Corporation of Bhutan, would distribute essential items if the zones do not have shops in their area. Besides, he said that construction works were allowed in gewogs.

For Dawa Choden from Nemjo under Lungnyi gewog, the movement card won’t ease the hassle of buying essential goods. She said that the small general stores in her zone don’t have any required essential goods.

Another resident Tshewang Rinzin said that the cards would be helpful only for walking around the paddy fields and refresh oneself. “Otherwise, there is nothing in our area.”

Dzongdag Tenzin Thinley said that if the shops identified in the buffer zones don’t have the necessary goods, the residents were not allowed to enter into another zone. “But the essential service providers will continue to deliver the goods.”

He added that wholesale dealers would also deliver essential goods to the retail shops in gewog and buffer zones if the shops run out of stock.

As per the standard operating procedure, the identified shops have to setup handwashing facilities, and the customers should follow strict health protocols.

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