Srinagar: After a month-long Corona curfew, the shops and business establishments reopened on Monday as the process of partial unlocking started across Jammu and Kashmir, including summer capital, Srinagar.
However, class work remained suspended as educational institutes — including schools, colleges, universities and private coaching centres — have been directed to remain closed till June 15 in the valley.
The suspension of train service between Baramulla in north Kashmir and Banihal in Jammu region has also been extended till June 9. All cinema halls, multiplexes, clubs, gyms, spas and paid parks would also remain closed till further orders in the valley, where weekend and night curfew would continue.
According to the unlock guidelines issued by the authorities, shops will remain open on alternate days in the valley while public transport was allowed to ply at 50 per cent seat capacity in Orange category districts and remained shut, expect three wheelers, in Red category districts.
Five districts in Kashmir—Pulwama, Anantnag, Baramulla, Kupwara and Budgam—have been placed in Red category districts while the remaining five—Srinagar, Ganderbal, Bandipora, Shopian and Kulgam – belong to Orange category districts.
The ease in the lockdown has come in the backdrop of decline of about 7 per cent in the number of COVID-19 positive cases from 13 per cent to 6.2 per cent during the last two weeks in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
All the roads and market places, including Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of the summer capital reopened on Monday after remaining sealed to prevent movement of people since April 29.
However, shops were allowed to open on one side while the business establishments on the other side of the road remained closed in compliance of the recent government order in Lal Chowk and other markers in Srinagar, where public transport, including cabs, hit the roads though very less in number after over a month.
Barring 96 containment zones, shops and businesses established reopened while traffic was plying in most of the roads in downtown, civil lines, uptown in Srinagar. “COVID lockdown will continue in the 96 containment zones in the city. Shopkeepers and transporters should display COVID vaccination certificates and adhere to coronavirus appropriate behavior,” Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Mohammad Aijaz Asad said on Monday.
Standalone shops of all types have been allowed to open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in the city, where outdoor Bazaars and Outdoor Shopping complexes shall be allowed to operate on Mondays and Thursdays. Markets having shops on both sides of the road will function on a rotational basis following which business establishments on one-side will be allowed to open on one day and the other side on another day. However, in some areas, particularly in downtown Srinagar, the guidelines were not being followed as shops were open on both sides of the road with shopkeepers alleging that they were not informed about the roster.
Shops and business establishment reopened after a month and public transport was plying on most of the roads in other four Orange category districts — Ganderbal, Bandipora, Shopian and Kulgam.
An order issued by Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla, said that barring three wheelers, public transport will not ply on roads in the district, which is in Red Category districts. “Shops will remain open between 1000 hrs to 1900 hrs as per the roster,” it read.
According to this roster, each category of the business establishments — including readymade garments, electronics, Jewelers, furnishing, stationary etc — will remain open for about eight days on different days in June. But, shops dealing with essential commodities will remain open on all days in Baramulla, where night between 2000 hrs to 0700 hrs the next day and weekend curfew between 2000 hrs on Friday and 0700 hrs on Monday would continue.
Similar ease in restrictions have been given in other four Red Category districts — Pulwama, Anantnag, Kupwara and Budgam, where shops and business establishments reopened according to the roster on Monday after a month-long lockdown.
Since April 29, the lockdown was extended four times in the valley amid an unabated rise in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. On April 29, the Jammu and Kashmir administration imposed curfew in 11 districts to curtail the spread of COVID-19, which was subsequently extended to all the 20 districts in the Union Territory the next day. The curfew that was supposed to end on May 3 was extended in Srinagar, Budgam, Baramulla and Jammu till May 6.
However, the Deputy Commissioners of the remaining seven districts in the valley extended the lockdown till May 6 separately. The COVID curfew was later extended till May 10 and then till May 17. The lockdown was again extended till May 24 and then till May 31 morning by the administration.
The administration last month ordered the closure of all universities, colleges, schools, and coaching centres in the Union Territory till May 15 though teaching and non-teaching staff being asked to attend schools and colleges. But, the J&K administration later allowed teaching and non-teaching staff to stay home in view of a surge in COVID-19 cases in Jammu and Kashmir. The closure of the educational institutes was extended till May 30 which has again been extended till June 15.
Teachers, however, are conducting online classes from home in the valley though many students alleged that they were unable to attend these classes due to the non-availability of smartphones. The decision to allow teachers to take online classes from their respective homes was taken after many teaching and non-teaching staff members of government schools tested positive for the virus in the Union Territory. (UNI)