Unlocking phases initiated since yesterday    

Kelzang Wangchuk  | Samdrupjongkhar

After about 41 days, Samdrupjongkhar dzongkhag began the unlocking activities of the dzongkhag in a phase-wise manner starting yesterday.

The decision was taken by the dzongkhag Covid-19 task force with approval from the Eastern Covid-19 Coordination Office (ECCO) in Dewathang.

However, the unlocking activities does not apply to the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) colony, which is identified as Yellow Zone. The RBP colony is under strict surveillance following the detection of the two positive cases from within the colony and considering a significant number of primary contacts traced in the same cluster.

In the first phase – September 20-22, individuals and families will be allowed to come out from their homes from all the zones. People would be only allowed to walk or cycle all the zones and people would also be allowed to visit the hospital between 10am to noon using their health book.

Emergency services at the hospitals would be provided for 24 hours, and people with any flu-like symptoms must visit the flu clinic. All offices would remain closed during the first phase.

According to a press release from the Covid-19 task force, all grocery and pharmaceutical shops would be allowed to open. Identified restaurants and bars providing  delivery  services can also open. However, no sit-in dining would be allowed. All shops must close at 6pm.

Local manufacturing units would also be allowed to operate on the condition that they are in a self-contained facility without movement of workers. Construction activities  can also resume but the activities must be limited within the premises, workers should stay at the site, and their rations should be provided by the contractors.

The press release stated that transportation of the raw materials at the worksite would not be allowed. And no sports activities would be allowed.

In the second phase of the unlocking, which starts from September 23-25, movement of public transports including taxis within the dzongkhag would be allowed. However, they are allowed to carry only 50 percent of the full capacity.

People can visit the hospital using their private vehicles. Shops such as stationary, mobiles, hardware, aumobile workshops and electronic, among others, would open. All shops can remain open until 7pm.

In the third phase beginning September 26-28, movements of private vehicles within the dzongkhag would be allowed with 50 percent of the permissible passengers. Movement of cars outside the dzongkhag would also be permitted with prior permission from the RBP and Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA).

All offices and shops would be opened with the Covid-19 safety protocols while transportation of raw materials to the worksite would also be allowed. All shops and business entities can remain open until 8pm.

Except non-contact sports such as badminton and table tennis, sports that involve exposure and close contacts and tournaments are prohibited until further notice.

Meanwhile, upon completing seven days of quarantine, about 363 students studying in various colleges and schools in other dzongkhags left from Samdrupjongkhar yesterday.

All students tested negative for Covid-19 test conducted on the RT-PCR. 

However, the students residing inside the RBP colony could not leave, as the colony is identified as Yellow Zone.

According to the health ministry, stringent surveillance will be put in the Yellow Zone until a certain level of safety is achieved. Restrictions in the Yellow Zone may be lifted if there are no cases detected for 14 days (September 19 to October 2) from the date of cordoning and end of testing.

Random samples would be tested by RT-PCR after completion of surveillance period of 14 days.