Govt shuts down schools, theaters; forbids large gatherings to prevent COVID-19 outbreak


KATHMANDU, March 18: The Government of Nepal has decided to close schools, theatres, cinema halls, cultural centers and stadiums to prevent the possible outbreak of the global pandemic.

A meeting of the high-level coordination committee led by Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ishwar Pokharel formed to prevent and control the coronavirus took the decision on Wednesday.

“Cinema halls, cultural centers, stadiums, gyms and health clubs, museum, swimming pools, entertainment centers, dance bars and other places of gatherings will remain closed till April 30,” said the committee in a press release.

The committee has also restricted the gatherings of more than 25 people in places such as party palace, temples, gumbas, mosques, church and other public places.

The committee has entrusted the duty to monitor and implement the decision to this effect to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.

Likewise, the committee is also asking the operators of the public vehicle not to carry passengers more than their capacity. Also, public vehicle owners will be required to disinfect their vehicles time and again every day.

“The action will be monitored by the Nepal Police the Department of Transport Management,” read the release.

The committee has also decided to take stern action against the black marketers and has asked people not to unnecessarily buy and gather essential supplies.

Also, child care centers and schools will be closed until the end of the academic session. However, the Secondary School Examination (SEE) will take place as scheduled, from March 19, in a secure and managed environment.

SEE postponed after assessing possible risk of Covid-19: Education Minister

Health Desk with screening and medical check-up facilities will be set up at every exam center to ensure the students’ safety during the examination period.

The committee has also asked the shopping malls, restaurants and hotel owners to compulsorily arrange hand sanitizers and disinfect the table, chairs, bars, toilets and bathrooms on a regular basis. Also, the owners are required to check the temperature of their customers with thermometer guns to ensure no one is infected.

The global virus has spread to 159 countries and territories infecting 184,975 people and claiming 7,529 lives since it was first detected on Dec 31 in Wuhan, China last year.

Photo: Mukunda Kalikote