Kathmandu hunkers down on Day One of lockdown

Kathmandu, March 24

Kathmandu valley wore a deserted look today as the government imposed a week-long lockdown nationwide to curb the spread of novel coronavirus.

The government had called on the people to go on self-imposed quarantine from 6:00am today to 6:00am on March 31 as part of its slew of preventive measures against the global pandemic. Vehicles except ambulances, hearses, police vans and those hauling essential supplies stayed off the road, while market-places, industries and factories remained shut as they exercised social distancing parameters prescribed by the government, in conformance with the guidelines of World Health Organisation.

People largely stayed indoors and spent quality time with family, respecting the government’s call for their support to fight the pandemic. Eerie silence prevailed in public thoroughfares and residential areas. “I chose to stay home and will keep exercising social distancing until further notice from the government because a small negligence on part of an individual could lead to wider spread of COVID-19. I take this restriction very positively,” said Rambabu Ghimire, 76, of Chabahil, Kathmandu. He is also a regular morning walker, but has avoided it amid the lockdown put in place to encourage people to practice social distancing and good hand hygiene.

Police said some of the people, who stepped out of their homes unnecessarily, were advised to abide by the rules. However, no one was arrested merely for loitering around the city. Nepal Police had deployed around 9,000 personnel across the country to implement the lockdown order. Deputy Inspector General Bishwo Raj Pokharel, chief of Metropolitan Police Office, Ranipokhari, said the lockdown in the valley was a complete success today. “It is highly appreciable that public fully respected the government’s order to stay home, as we did not record any untoward incident,” he said.

DIG Pokharel also said some confusions prevailed whether groceries had been allowed to operate or not. “Although the government has called for a total lockdown, we did not force groceries to close their business to ensure smooth supply of essential goods,” he said. Senior Superintendent of Police Bhim Prasad Dahal, chief of Metropolitan Traffic Police Division also said the public supported today’s lockdown. No action were taken against any vehicle today.