Punjab bans public gatherings to check COVID-19 spread

Mandatory FIRs shall now be filed against those violating the curb

covid-patients-jalandhar-punjab-aayush COVID-19 patients in Jalandhar, Punjab | Aayush Goel

Owing to the rapid surge in COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks in Punjab, the state government has decided to rein in the ongoing unlock measures. As per the latest order, all public gatherings have been banned and restricted congregation to five persons at social gatherings, and to 30 at weddings in state. Mandatory FIRs shall now be filed against those violating the curb.

“Joint teams of police and civil administration shall strictly enforce the restrictions on social gatherings (restricted to 5 under section 144 imposed in all districts) as well as weddings and social functions. The management of marriage palaces and hotels shall be held responsible and shall face suspension of licence in case of violation of norms. “Further, the management of marriage palaces and hotels or other commercial spaces will have to certify that adequate arrangements for ventilation of indoor spaces have been made,” read the notification.

The state has, in last 10 days, registered more than 2,000 new cases with total count of over 7,800 and around 200 deaths have been reported so far. Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar are the worst-hit districts, contributing more than 50 per cent of active cases of the total 2,230 cases in Punjab.

The recent public gatherings and protests, primarily political, by both Congress and opposition parties, are suspected to be one of the key reasons behind the spread. The state government has also partnered with IIT Chennai experts to intensify surveillance, using technology in order to identify 'super-spreader' gatherings that could have led to the surge.

The state had drawn flak over the recent protests against the petrol, diesel price hike, as hundreds of senior Congress leaders and supporters went around without wearing masks and or observing social distancing. “Wearing of masks has been made compulsory in work places, offices and closed places as per the new guidelines. It also directs strict enforcement of the health department advisory on air conditioning and ventilation. Public dealing in offices may be curtailed to cater to need-based and urgent issues. There shall be no physical presentation of demand charters by associations,” added the notification.