Sunday, 9 August, 2020
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EDITORIAL

Lifting Of The Lockdown



As Nepal has continued to witness a sharp fall in the number of COVID-19 cases over the past some weeks, the government has finally terminated the nationwide lockdown effective from Tuesday mid-night. The lifting of the 120-day lockdown has definitely brought a lot of cheers to all the people from different walks of life. The country has so far reported more than 18,000 cases of the new virus disease, with 41 deaths. With the termination of the prolonged restrictive measure, life is gradually returning to normalcy in the country. The government had imposed the tough restriction by suspending the movement of public vehicles, domestic and international flights, and closing businesses, academic institutions, among others, since March 24 to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. It needs no mention that the lockdown has hit the national economy hard. However, the government had relaxed the restriction about five weeks back to help reopen the economic sector.

The government declared an end to the provision of running offices in two shifts office provision from Tuesday. With this decision, all the public offices will now remain open from 10am to 5pm. The government has also annulled the odd-even number provision imposed on private vehicle operation. According to a Cabinet decision taken recently, tourism-related businesses such as hotels, restaurants, travel, trekking and mountaineering will reopen from July 30. This move is expected to help revive the worst-hit tourism industry from the upcoming autumn. However, hotels and restaurants will be barred from hosting parties and seminars until the fear of the coronavirus pandemic subsides. Similarly, public and private vehicles will be plying on medium and long routes from August 17. The country is also going to see resumption of scheduled domestic and international flights from the same date. Reopening of flights will alone be helpful for reviving the tourism industry. Public vehicles on short routes have already been in operation. The government has also planned to resume trainings for international sports and primary sporting activities, and allow schools, colleges and universities to enroll students from August 1.

However, schools and colleges will have to wait for another notice to resume their physical classes. Minister for Finance and Communication and Information Technology Dr. Yuba Raj Khatiwada, who is also the government's spokesperson, said that the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology will come up with a detailed plan and programme about the way of calling admissions and running online classes until normal classes resume. Cinema halls, party palaces, dance bars and other entertainment venues, barber shops, beauty parlours, spas, swimming pools, gyms, sports tournaments, museums, zoos, libraries, and religious and social gatherings will come into operation only after the government's further notice.

With several cases of COVID-19 being detected in Nepal and the pandemic spreading rapidly in many other nations, including neighbouring India, everyone must continue taking various precautions such as maintaining social distancing, washing hands with soap and water, wearing face masks and using hand sanitisers to be safe from the virus disease. The lockdown has been removed for reopening the economy and easing social life. However, the government also must remain watchful to step up apt measures to deal with the deadly virus disease in case infections rise suddenly.    

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