Kathmandu, May 7: The government has decided to extend the nationwide lockdown till May 18. A meeting of the Council of Ministers held at the official residence of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli in Baluwatar on Wednesday morning took decision to this effect. The lockdown was extended as per the recommendation of the high level committee formed to prevent and control the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) made Tuesday. The ongoing lockdown which was first enforced on March 24 to stop the spread of COVID-19 was to come to an end on Thursday midnight, May 7. According to Minister for Finance, Communication and Information Technology, Dr Yuvaraj Khatiwada, the meeting also decided to suspend all international flights and cross-border movement with the neighbouring countries India and China till May 31. Before this, the term of international flight suspension and cross-border movement was expiring on May 15. Also, the Cabinet meeting decided to urge all citizens to light a candle on Thursday evening at 7:00 pm in respect of those frontline health workers and doctors involved in the treatment of patients infected with the coronavirus and to commemorate Buddha Jayanti. In a bid to control the spread of the virus, the government will further tighten people’s movement in Kathmandu Valley, according to the Minister. Despite the lockdown in effect, hundreds of people are reportedly entering into the Valley from various parts of the country. Meanwhile, the Cabinet meeting also allowed banks and financial institutions to operate their services with one-third of the total employees by maintaining social distancing, according to Minister Dr Khatiwada. The Cabinet meeting has also decided to further tighten and increase vigilance at all entry points of the Kathmandu Valley and control of carrying passengers in ambulances. The entry check posts have been ordered to keep the entry and exit records of the essential vehicles and their drivers and helpers so as to confirm the vehicle rider’s details that make their entry into and exit from the Capital. The Cabinet meeting also decided to allow opening Janak Education Material Centre, Sanothimi, and book shops selling books and publications of the Centre across the country. Similarly, the Cabinet meeting also allowed opening vehicle workshops with presence of just up to five workers. The government also decided to permit the local governments to allow opening highway-based hotels and shops in every 50 kilometers. These hotels and shops will be allowed only to sell packed or readymade foods, the Minister said. The local bodies and CDOs should facilitate in maintaining and allowing operation of the hotels, he said. The government has also decided to open offices providing public service by adhering to the health advisory and implementing alternate routine for their employees in Kathmandu Valley with vehicle passes for 25 per cent of all vehicles they have. These vehicle passes can be issued upon the recommendation of the respective public service offices, according to Minister Dr. Khatiwada. The government has also decided allowing cement factories, iron industries and sand and pebble mines by maintaining social distancing and managing employees’ food and daily health check up. Workers working in different government and private development projects should keep their staff members in a certain place without letting them go home, he said. The government has also decided to run the regular business of the House of Representative and National Assembly by maintaining distance and ensuring health check up, he said.