The J&K government has announced the fourth phase of the lockdown and on expected lines, it will run till the end of this month. However, it represents a departure from the past three phases in the degree of the relaxations. The government has permitted resumption of many activities including opening of shops, private offices, limited vehicular movement in Orange and Green Zones and private hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and restaurants for home delivery, banks and financial services etc in entire J&K.
Activities are now allowed at all Industrial Estates with cent percent workforce in Green districts and 50 percent workforces in Orange and Red districts. All workshops, service centers, and home workshops can operate with not more than five persons working on site or inside premises with a rider of complying with the health, safety, and other instructions.
At the same time, there is semblance with the past lockdowns as air travel, except medical emergencies and security purposes, trains, inter-State, inter-district and intra-district buses for public transport and private vehicles and movement of individuals for all non-essential activities between 7 pm to 7 am will remain prohibited.
In other words, the J&K is now opening up substantially. Efforts seem afoot to restore some kind of rhythm of life, interrupted for more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paradoxically, J&K is opening up when cases of Covid-19 have surpassed the 1300 mark. A whopping, over 400 cases, have been added up in just a week and it is primarily attributed to the return of those stranded across the country or elsewhere.
Remember that Jammu and Kashmir imposed the lockdown when cases were in a single digit. It is opening up when there is a clear surge. The legitimacy of the relaxations sounds valid given the fact that the lockdowns have not yielded results as regards flattening the curve even though it allowed the government to ramp up health infrastructure to a bit and increase testing to a larger extent in comparison to what was abysmal to start with. It seems that people will now have to learn to live with two contradictions—the rising number of cases on one side and relaxations and resumption of economic activity on the other side. Adjusting to these contradictions will not be easy but people must keep abiding by social distancing norms, wearing masks, and taking other precautions as advised from time to time by the government and health experts. The danger continues and the government and the people need to tread with caution and never lower guard.