Govt announces further relaxations

The residents of Thimphu and other districts in a similar relaxation phase can move within their respective Mega Zones beginning today. The government announced it last night. It comes ahead of the initial dates the government announced last week. The Prime Minister, during a press brief on Monday, said that the Task Force will consider lifting the restrictions ahead of the announced date if the situation does not worsen.

Business entities, except for entertainment centres, will be allowed to open till 7 PM. Shop owners can cross Mega Zones to operate businesses upon obtaining a one-time e-pass which can be used for commuting to their shop daily.

Although private cars are not permitted, for now, taxis are allowed to operate within Mega Zones to carry people of the same cohort like family, friends and colleagues. Taxis are also allowed to cross their Mega Zones only for emergency reasons such as medical, death and vaccination purposes.

The RT-PCR validity for the drivers carrying goods and utility vehicles have been increased from seven to 14 days.

According to the Prime Minister’s office, the current relaxations are in keeping with the cautious transitioning to the new phase of COVID-19 management. The Prime Minister’s Office said the trend over the days have been encouraging with most individuals choosing to remain indoors, despite relaxation within zones in Thimphu and across other districts with community cases.

Meanwhile, during the press briefing on Monday, the Prime Minister said that the government is planning to implement a reverse isolation programme for a vulnerable population.

“Before, only positive cases are isolated to prevent the spread in the community. But in reverse isolation, if cases increase in the community, to protect the vulnerable group of people, there will be a different programme from the His Majesty’s Secretariat. It will include the provision of services if they are kept in the house and other measures,” said the Prime Minister.

As the country moves into phase two COVID-19 management strategy, the government is urging the public to adhere to safety protocols including wearing face masks and avoiding gatherings to keep the virus at bay.

Meanwhile, in keeping with the new phase of the COVID-19 management strategy, the health ministry announced that all antigen-positive will now be considered positive without requiring RT-PCR confirmation. All domestic travellers requiring RT-PCR tests can now travel with the antigen test result. The ministry also reduced the cost of RT-PCR tests to Nu 1,500.

Samten Dolkar

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