Nepal | June 05, 2020

Government takes drastic steps to counter novel coronavirus threat

• People told not to leave home unless it’s urgent • Cinema halls, stadiums shut till April 30

Himalayan News Service
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  • People told not to leave home unless it’s urgent
  • Cinema halls, stadiums shut till April 30

Kathmandu, March 18

The government today appealed to the people not to leave their homes unless it was urgent.

It also urged the general public not to organise cultural or religions gatherings of more than 25 people at locations such as banquet halls and temples.

A Nepal Army personnel sanitises his hands as part of demonstrating safety measures, amidst rising concerns of COVID-19 outbreak, at a quarantine zone, inside the Army Headquarters, in Kathmandu, on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Photo: Skanda Gautam/THT

A meeting of the high-level coordination committee for the prevention and control of coronavirus this afternoon decided to shut down cinema halls, cultural centres, stadiums, gyms, health clubs, museums, swimming pools, recreational places and dance bars until April 30.

As per the committee’s decision, the implementation of aforementioned provisions will be monitored by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Provincial and local governments will also monitor implementation of the measures.

The government has urged public vehicle operators not to carry passengers exceeding the number of seats and also urged people not to get into crowded vehicles.

Nepal Police will monitor implementation of this decision. The police and theDepartment of Transport Management will also monitor how often public vehicle operators disinfect their vehicles every day.

Local governments will work to disinfect and clean places where there’s maximum movement of people. The work will be monitored by the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration and provincial and local governments.

The government will take immediate action against those involved in creating artificial shortages, hoarding, black marketeering or other market anomalies. It has also urged people not to purchase daily essential commodities in excess.

As far as international passenger movement is concerned, the government has imposed ban on travellers originating from or getting transit in all European, West Asian and Gulf countries, including Iran, Turkey, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan, from March 20 till April 15.

If a foreigner fails to return to their home due to travel restrictions, the government will regularise their visa if applied for the same within a set timeframe to be announced. Similarly, if a person has postponed travel plans due to Nepal’s travel restrictions, the government will direct airlines companies to make full reimbursement of ticket charges to passengers.

To discourage fear-mongering, the government has decided to penalise those propagating misinformation through any media, including social media.

Communications experts said although it was necessary for media to only disseminate verified news, the government should encourage news outfits to do so instead of threatening them with penalty.

Executive Director of Freedom Forum Tara Nath Dahal said the government should feed authentic information to quell misinformation.

He lamented that the government did not have a holistic communication strategy to win the people’s confidence, and therefore, it was provisioning punishments and threatening media and the public.

A version of this article appears in print on March 19, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.

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