Choki Wangmo

Owing to public cooperation in implementing the movement cards to avail vegetable delivery service, the government would open identified shops in various zones across Thimphu Thromde starting today.

Depending on the directives in their movement cards, according to allocated zones and timing, an individual from each household can buy essential items from those shops.

The Foreign Minister Lyonpo Tandi Dorji at a panel discussion said that people should, however, practice physical distancing and follow health advisory while visiting shops.

De-Suups and law enforcers will ensure that people follow the government directives. Lyonpo said that lockdown might not last long if people adhere to the rules.

He said that the movement cards in the zone should not be considered as lockdown relaxation because the risk of coronavirus was still high.

The shops in the respective zones would open on alternate days but the initial focus is on the shops that sell essential items.

For example, along the Norzin Lam, three percent of shops can open tomorrow and remain closed the next day so that every shop are given equal opportunity to carry out business. Depending on the situation, other non-essential shops could be opened in the coming weeks and months, Lyonpo said.

On its Facebook page, the Prime Minister’s Office announced that the move was implemented after analysing the epidemiological situation on the ground. However, it stated: “While these initiatives are incorporated to make lockdown as endurable as possible, this doesn’t not mean the public is encouraged to come out of the house.”

Those zones without shops can either avail online delivery service which would be still in place or arrange vehicles to procure the items in their areas. Considering the conditions of low-income group and their financial challenges, Lyonpo said the government would ensure that they were not left behind by arranging other methods like a credit system.

Yesterday, 200 movement cards were issued and the authorities were still working on those areas which did not get their movement cards. The Thimphu residents were asked to call the toll-free number 1010 for movement card.

Lyonpo also said that zoning in other dzongkhags was also underway.

Meanwhile, a team from the health ministry will conduct mass testing in Paro beginning today.

About 1,000 individuals will be tested and should there be positive cases, lockdown could extend.

He also urged the people to stop stigmatising those who are tested positive. “We should empathise and be compassionate to each other.”