Barring Lakhanpur Containment zone and area on either side of Jawahar tunnel on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, no other place falls within the Red Zone categorization across 20 districts in Jammu and Kashmir as declared by Chief Secretary and Chairman State Executive Committee BVR Subrahmanyam.
In other words, except for these two small places, no area would be deemed as Covid-19 hotspots and therefore would not be placed under the maximum restrictions stipulated in the Home Ministry’s directive.
With the designation of all the districts as orange zones or green, most markets can re-open, factories and industrial units can resume operations, and self-employed people can go work with ease. In nutshell, one can deduce that lot more activities would be allowed with fewer or no restrictions in place.
Allowing economic activity at full pace but under safeguards continues to be inevitable.
In balancing life and livelihood, there cannot be any suspension of activities that are important to people’s lives although the restrictions on the number of passengers allowed in private vehicles and taxi cabs, and the protocol for personnel in industries call for strict adherence to succeed. The relaxation process had to be eased greatly. However, a less rigorous lockdown does not mean Covid-19 has been overcome. The highly contagious virus has not disappeared and the weeks ahead present a challenge to Jammu and Kashmir administration given the fact that harvesting season is over and there would more dispersion of people who otherwise remained confined to families. In the absence of medical remedies, prevention remains the only option against the pestilence. Using face masks, hand washing and physical distancing at all times are universally recognised precautions. Such measures need to be adopted with strict adherence. For example a study from Simon Fraser University in Canada has found that mask mandates are associated with a 25 percent or larger weekly reduction in Covid-19 cases.
The research also found that relaxed restrictions on businesses and gatherings including retail and restaurants were positively associated with subsequent Covid-19 case growth—a factor that could offset and obscure the health benefits of mask mandates.
Also, local authorities dealing with the infection at ground level are the best placed to understand its spatial vagaries. It’s, therefore, imperative that they have a say in managing the affairs as regards the containment of the virus.