Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar

Samdrupjongkhar Covid-19 task force declared all the 11 gewogs in Samdrupjongkhar as high-risk areas yesterday. 

People can now travel within the dzongkhag without restrictions.

The decision was made to ensure access to services, essential goods, and ease of doing business, among others. 

According to the notification, people exiting Samdrupjongkhar to the low-risk areas would have to complete a weeklong facility quarantine and test negative during the RT-PCR test at the end of the quarantine. 

The notification stated that people can travel from high-risk to high-risk areas without having to undergo a weeklong quarantine. “But they would have to undergo and declare negative during the antigen rapid test conducted within the 24 hours before their travel,” the notifications stated. 

Those travelling in emergency approved by the dzongkhag and regional Covid-19 task force would have to test negative during the rapid diagnostic test (RDT) and share information with the incident commander (IC) and medical desk for surveillance. 

Samdrupjongkhar dzongdag, Tharchin Lhendup, said people in the gewogs would now have to undergo mandatory facility quarantine for a week and register online for travel if they go to the low-risk areas because Samdrupjongkhar is now considered a high-risk zone.

“The gewog administrations and health officials in the basic health units (BHU) would have to arrange for the facility quarantine, and Covid testing should anyone be exiting from the gewogs henceforth,” the dzongdag said.

Meanwhile, the business community in the Samdrupjongkhar thromde are pleased with the task force’s decision as it would help revive their businesses. People were not allowed to enter the thromde from Pinchina (charkilo) until yesterday.

A shopkeeper, Namgay, said that it was challenging for them to earn Nu 1,000 a day as there were no customers. “The decision is timely and would help revive our business.” 

Shopkeepers said that since most of the shops in the thromde are on rent, they were worried about the rents and loan repayments. “It would also help if the task force could increase the existing time to 9pm,” one of the businessmen said. Today, businesses have to close by 7pm.