Prohibitory orders will be loosened for agricultural sector, movement of vehicles will not be allowed right now: Spokesperson of Home Ministry
KATHMANDU: The government has issued prohibitory orders in 75 out of 77 districts across the country till 14th June for the prevention, control and treatment of COVID-19. 72 districts are under complete lockdown except partial prohibitory orders in Taplejung, Saptari and Mustang.
With the pandemic receding, the Home Ministry has begun homework on easing the lockdown-like prohibitory orders. However, Home Ministry Spokesperson Janak Raj Dahal has said that no conclusion has been reached so far. According to Dahal, who is also the head of the security and coordination division of the ministry, discussions are underway to relax the restrictions for the agricultural sector, but that vehicles will not be allowed to run immediately. Nepal Press’s brief conversation with Dahal about the lockdown and loosening it down:
It has been a month and a half since the prohibitory orders were issued for the control of the second wave of COVID-19. What are the preparations of the Ministry of Home Affairs on the extension?
The decision has not been made yet. The Ministry of Home Affairs is reporting from the districts. We are discussing the Chief District Officers and the concerned ministries. We will move forward accordingly after a conclusion is reached.
Looking at the assessment so far, is the status quo going to be continued?
Based on the reports from the district, the government has decided to make agricultural work easier as this is the peak time for farming. We are thinking of making it easier for the transport and use of tools, fertilizers, seeds and other materials required for farming. Similarly, there is a plan to make it easier for farmers.
What will happen to business operations in the city markets?
We have not entered this in our discussions. Even currently, it has been made easier to buy and sell essential items at predetermined time slots. Although the number of COVID infections has decreased numerically due to the issuance of the prohibitory orders, it has not decreased significantly. Public health experts predict that COVID infections may spread further in June/July, so we have not thought about this yet.
Does that mean the movement of vehicles will not be allowed? Will the odd-even system be implemented?
No, there is no such preparation. We haven’t thought about this yet. There is no plan to allow vehicles now, and there is no plan to implement the odd-even system as the spread of the infection might increase due to this.
Laborers have been hit hard as the prohibitory orders have been in place for a month and a half. How will the government look after them?
We have not seen any such problems. Unlike last year, this is not a total lockdown this time. This time, they were informed a few days ago so that they could reach their destinations before issuing the prohibitory orders. Various local levels and partner organizations are distributing relief to the affected laborers. So, there have not been many such problems.
How successful have the prohibitory orders been?
This has had a very good impact. Infections are also declining. So the effect of the orders is good. On the one hand, there are discussions going on about not lifting the prohibitory orders until the coronavirus is fully under control.
It is only about easing or loosening the restrictions. Many are now following the ordinance issued that has provisions for harsher punishments for violators. We will continue to tighten this. We have requested and urged for this many times, now it is time to take ruthless action.
How are discussions being held with the high level committee of the government?
At present, we have not discussed the issue with the high-level committee. Other issues are being addressed as required. That is why we are having regular discussions with the Chief District Officers of all the districts. Work is underway to report and analyze the situation there.
The ordinance to prevent the spread of coronavirus also mentions a health crisis or emergency. Is there any discussion about this?
We do not know about this. That is a matter of concern for the health ministry.
Are there any preparations to remove or maintain the prohibitory orders according to the condition of the districts?
That right belongs to the Chief District Officer. But there are no discussions on this even among them. They will discuss with the concerned bodies and stakeholders and report to the Ministry. Only then can we decide what to do and what not to do.
On the basis of the report of the Chief District Officer on the situation of the district, we also discuss with the concerned body and reach a decision after drawing conclusions.
So how long will it take to decide how to proceed?
Everyone knows that currently the prohibitory orders are in force in 75 districts. This will continue till 14th June. With only a few days left until the 31st, all the districts have started discussions. They are also regularly coordinating with the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has also started discussions internally and has also held discussions with other ministries. We will draw conclusions before 14th June.