The Nepal government, on Wednesday, extended the ongoing lockdown until 18 May Monday-midnight. Likewise, the government also extended its ban on movements to and from the international point of entries and open border areas, and all commercial international and domestic flights until 31 May Sunday-midnight. However, freight movements are set to continue as earlier.
Elaborating more on the current scenario, the government emphasized that the decisions made for the prevention and control of the COVID-19 pandemic are taken as per the “Infectious Diseases Act, 2020”. Thanking all citizens for obeying the lockdown till date, the government requested everyone to do the same for the extended period as well. In a case where one does not abide by the directions or helps others enter via border points and open border areas or helps them hide, they will be penalized as per the law.
With the extension of the lockdown, the government announced various arrangements and decisions for various sectors and areas. The government has decided to allow certain sectors and organizations involved in certain activities to start their operations. For this, the people involved in those sectors or activities have to coordinate with the Central-Level COVID-19 Crisis Management Center and Province-Level COVID-19 Crisis Management Center. The respective district’s COVID-19 Crisis Management Center will permit them to operate after assessing the risk of the spread of the virus. They should also at all times abide by the social distancing measures, and health and safety requirements. The organizations which are involved in the production, sales, and distribution of urgent items such as medicines and medical equipment, food items, agriculture products, livestock products, poultry products, industrial products, transport of various items necessary for the operation of development projects (such as stones, ballasts, and sand), and other areas such as banking and financial services are to be permitted to operate.
The sector-wise arrangements and decisions are given below:
Arrangements and decisions related to agriculture, livestock and poultry products
The areas that will be allowed to resume operations include:
- Plantation of food crops and other crops, and bringing in mature crops
- Animal husbandry, fish farming, and poultry farming
- Production, collection, storage, sales and distribution of fruits, vegetables, milk, and dairy products
- Production, sales, and distribution of plants, grass, and seeds from a nursery
- Production, storage, sales and distribution of agricultural seeds
Arrangements and decisions related to health services
The areas that will be allowed to resume operations include:
- Government and private health institutions, hospitals, nursing homes, polyclinics, labs, and diagnostic centres
- Medical shops, Ayurveda, and homoeopathy
- Operation of all types of vaccines-related work and other urgent services
- Sales and distribution of medicines, medical equipment, and medical oxygen
- Agro-vet, veterinary clinics, and other related services
Arrangements and decisions related to the sale of books
Bookstores will be allowed to sell textbooks and other books by taking permission from the Janak Education Equipment Center.
Arrangements and decisions related to shipping/freight services
Vehicles used in shipping/freight service will be allowed movements till their destination. However, they must sanitize their vehicles, fulfil all health and safety requirements, and make necessary arrangements for the health checkup of the driver and the operator at custom points. The arrangements need to be made by industries and corporations themselves.
Such movements will be allowed for the following sectors, areas, or in the following scenarios:
- Agricultural production and agricultural businesses, and/or vehicles carrying chemical and organic manure
- Health equipment related material, and/or ambulance services
- Those having received check passes from customs and carrying loads from industries and corporations or those having taken permission from Janak Education Equipment Center to transport school’s textbooks
- Vehicles carrying water, gas, petroleum, etc.
- Vehicles carrying raw materials and ready-made goods
- Vehicles carrying equipment and construction materials used in development projects
Furthermore, cargo vehicles entering the Kathmandu valley will not be allowed to carry passengers. The details like name, date of birth, the entry date, and the exit date of the driver and operator from the valley will be noted while entering the valley. Any falsified details will be penalized.
Arrangements and decisions related to development works
Any work related to the national pride projects, government-owned and privately owned hydropower projects, irrigation projects, drinking water projects, airport constructions, road and bridge construction, government building constructions, etc. would be allowed by limited the number of people to 10 in once place at one time.
Daily health checkups for the labour workers who work in these projects are to be made mandatory. The food for them is to be provided in the workplace itself. During the period of the lockdown, a separate housing facility is to be managed for them. This can also be done in the respective ward’s (where the project is located) government/community buildings and schools, empty spaces, and private school buildings. The workers who will reside there should not be exposed to the residents of that area. Along with this, the commute for workers from their residing area to the construction site should be managed by the construction companies, by adhering to all the health and safety requirements. All of the costs associated with this should be borne by the construction companies themselves.
Various works such as the production, collection, and storage of stones, ballast, and sand are allowed. Also allowed are the production, collection, and transportation of limestone, coal, and clinker necessary to operate mines for the cement industries. Furthermore, works related to river control are also allowed.
Arrangements and decisions related to public service
The banks, insurances, securities, and cooperatives should operate with the minimum necessary number of staff or around 1/3rd of staff to deliver urgent services. Government offices and public institutions providing urgent services should also manage their operation with the minimum necessary number of staff on a turn-by-turn basis. For public institutions inside the Kathmandu valley, only around 1/4th of their vehicles will be provided with passes during the lockdown as per the consultation with the respective ministry’s secretary or the chief of the respective institution.
Arrangements and decisions related to industries
Industries should adhere to all health and safety requirements, and should compulsorily sanitize their workplaces. During the period of the lockdown, a separate housing facility is to be managed for labour workers of the industries. This can also be done in the respective ward’s (where the industry is located) government/community buildings and schools, empty spaces, and private school buildings. The workers who will reside there should not be exposed to the residents of that area. Along with this, the commute for workers from their residing area to the construction site should be managed by the respective industries, by adhering to all the health and safety requirements. All of the costs associated with this should be borne by the respective industries themselves as well.
Industries of the following types or producing the following items are allowed to resume operations:
- Daily consumption items like rice, lentils, beaten rice, sugar, biscuits, bread, noodles, etc.
- Drinking water processing
- Medicine and health equipment
- Soap production and packaging
- Gas bottling
- Small and cottage industries
- Export-based industries
- Industries running in special economic zones (SEZ)
- Construction industries like cement and pipes
Along with this – workshops, internet repair works, plumbing, and electrical services are allowed to resume operation, and however, they cannot gather in a crowd of more than five people. Hotels and restaurants in highways and auxiliary highways will also be allowed to run, however, they should have a distance of 50 KM between themselves and should be at a designated area (as per the permission given by the local level). These hotels and restaurants are allowed to resume operation keeping in mind the people who are involved in transporting various goods and the people who commute for urgent works. Along with this, workshops and petrol pumps will also be allowed to resume operations.
Other arrangements and decisions
- The instructions that should be followed at all times include social distancing, using masks, using sanitizers, washing hands, paying via electronic mediums, and not crowding in a group of more than 5 people.
- The House of Representatives, national assembly, and parliamentary committee meetings with resume by following the necessary health checkup standards.
- The following sectors or areas or line of businesses will not be allowed to resume operations or operate until further notice:
1. Universities, campuses, schools, and other educational institutions
2. Training centres
3. Commercial malls which sell non-food items, stores, cinema halls, and fun-parks
4. Public places and public gatherings
5. Religious places like temples, mosques, monasteries, churches, gurudwaras; gathering there or holding religious programs there are not allowed
6. Hotels, bars, and restaurants