Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

With the second phase of relaxations in Phuentsholing ending on August 9, further unlocking will begin from August 10.

While residents are hoping that lockdown 4.0 would finally be lifted and people could come out, many want mass screening in Mega Zone 1 and 2 before August 10. 

A private employee, Melam, said that since Mega Zone 2 is the epicenter of the virus, a mass screening is definitely required before the relaxation. 

“At least two persons must be tested from each household.”

He said the mass testing could be carried out after August 9. 

“The relaxations can be announced phase-wise then.”

A shopkeeper, Namgay also agreed mass screening is a must. 

“Otherwise, the lockdown would not serve its purpose.”

Residents said the mass screening would help them find out the status of the town.

However, there are also others who don’t agree to mass screening.

A resident said it would be a waste of government resources. 

“If one person is positive, the entire building will be cordoned off.”

He said all the residents of that particular building would have to go for 21 days’ home quarantine. “I personally think there will be some positive cases if we do mass screening.”

After the completion of the second round of vaccination on July 26, four cases have been reported from the community.

The latest Covid-19 positive case from the community was reported yesterday. 

Meanwhile, it is 113th day today since Phuentsholing went into the third lockdown since April 17 this year. Although some relaxations have been given depending on the situation and the location of the zones, Phuentsholing has not opened fully.

Although the second phase of lockdown relaxation for Mega Zone 1 and 2 in Phuentsholing started on August 3, not many people are coming out.

Restaurants, grocery shops, and medical shops were allowed to open from 8am to 7pm. The integrated vegetable market also opened at 50 percent capacity.

A restaurant owner, Karma Tshering Dorji, said there are no customers.

“This is because the mega zone is divided into subzones. People are allowed to move only within the subzones,” he said.

Grocery stores are also now seeing many customers. Some are sorting out expired goods.

Many in Phuentsholing are also saying the recent comment made by the economic affairs minister in a private newspaper was improper.

“Maybe, the minister is right. However, it is important to understand which businesses are affected the most in Phuentsholing. At the ground level, import-export businesses, including the groceries, have not been affected,” he said, adding these businesses were doing fine.

He said small retail shops, salons, drayangs, karaoke bars, and restaurants and bars have been hit the most. “Government is speaking in general. But some businesses are going well. But for us, there is no business at all.”

Many have also raised their voice and asked if the government could look at helping those businesses hit hard by the prolonged lockdown with some special schemes.

Edited by Tashi Dema