Nepal lifting blanket lockdown in six stages

coronavirus, COVID-19

KATHMANDU, June 6: Two and half months after shutting down the nation to prevent and control the spread of novel coronavirus pandemic, the government is planning to lift the nationwide lockdown and resume the economy gradually.

Amid widespread calls for relaxing the lockdown which is in place since March 24, the government is preparing to resume the economy in six stages, possibly dividing the areas based on the risk factors and adopting appropriate health protocols.

The blanket lockdown came into effect after the country’s second case was detected, and into the 75 days the country has reported more than 2900 confirmed cases and 11 deaths, with over 200 cases reported every day. And the cases are expected to rise in the coming days as the government is expanding the testing and more people from India is entering the nation. Besides, the government has already begun the repatriation of Nepali citizens stranded in various countries.

The COVID-19 Crisis Management Center (CCMC) led by Deputy Prime Minister Ishwar Pokharel, who also heads the High-level Coordination Committee, has proposed a six-phase modality in this regard which will be implemented from June 15 after the Council of Ministers approves it.

Each stage will last for two weeks and the blanket lockdown will be lifted in 70 days.

The crisis management center has proposed reopening of essential services and agriculture sector in the first stage. Department stores, food stores and daily good distribution centers will be opened.

After evaluating the activities, the government will allow partial opening of health institutions, online and print media in the second phase.

Private vehicles will be allowed to ply on the roads based on odd-even plate number in the third phase. Long-distance public vehicles and domestic flights will also be resume while agriculture sectors will be completely reopened.

In the fourth stage, the government will allow almost all sectors to open in condition of following health protocols such as physical distancing, except educational institutes and large business. Partial operation of international flights will also be allowed.

In the fifth phase, all kind of educational institutes, construction services, entertainment centers, construction, gym, hotels, restaurants and bars, malls, banking and finance, sports, religions places and public and private offices will open.
In the sixth phase, the government will completely remove the lockdown and bring back the normalcy before Dashain festival.