Bhaktapur CDO in favour of relaxing coronavirus curbs


Chief District Officer of Bhaktapur Humakala Pandey said today that district administrations of Bhaktapur, Kathmandu and Lalitpur would take an official decision tomorrow on whether or not to extend prohibitory orders, but she was for further relaxing the curbs.

Until now the three district administration offices have allowed only shops dealing in food items, medicines, fruits and vegetables, essential services and construction businesses to remain open.

“We’ve already eased restrictions on construction and essential services. We’ve to decide what to do regarding other businesses and public vehicles,” she said, adding that schools, colleges, party palaces and places with large gatherings would remain shut.

Chief District Officer of Kathmandu Janak Raj Dahal said he had been consulting stakeholders on what his office should do next and DAOs of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur would take a decision tomorrow or the day after.

Some stakeholders are of the opinion that there should be no restriction at all, some have advocated limited restrictions, while others are in favour of stricter curbs. “We will take a decision based on the advice of stakeholders and keeping in view the COVID situation in Kathmandu,” Dahal said. He said DAOs of the valley would send their opinions to the federal Ministry of Home Affairs and decide on the curbs after the ministry’s nod.

Industrialist Shekhar Golchha, who was among the business persons Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli interacted with yesterday on the COVID-19 crisis, said he was confident that prohibitory orders would not be extended in Kathmandu valley. “As per ILO estimation, 22 per cent workforce has lost jobs in Nepal’s formal sector.

The situation could become worse in the coming days and months. We should try our best to save people from disease, but while doing so we should not allow a situation where people would die of hunger,”

Golchha said. He added that closure of businesses affected people’s livelihood. He said the business community was ready to open their business adhering to WHO guidelines or any other guidelines that the Government of Nepal could formulate to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Golchha said curbs on public transportation should be lifted and service seekers should follow all the safety measures.

Assistant Spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population Samir Kumar Adhikari said while chief district officers were free to decide on enforcing prohibitory orders in the face of COVID-19 threat, lockdown and prohibitory orders alone were not the solution. “Extending the lockdown could create joblessness and food scarcity,” he said, adding that the rise in the number of COVID cases was not alarming. “Cases are not multiplying. There has been slight increase in positive cases,” he said, adding that the number of people who say they came into contact with COVID-19 cases in Kathmandu valley was limited.

He added that COVID hospitals were not overwhelmed by patients. “If the number of COVID-19 cases rises sharply in Kathmandu, we may think of enforcing strict measures again, but that situation has not arrived. People should be allowed to get back to their normal lives gradually,” he added.

The prohibitory orders that were enforced three weeks ago, will end on Wednesday.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on September 8, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.