Facemasks mandatory as unlocking happens

Since the implementation of unlocking of lockdown in the country (excluding Phuentsholing, Sarpang, Samtse and Samdrupjongkhar) people were seen coming out to buy things which they failed to get during the 21 days of lockdown and people, including children, were seen going for a walk with some riding cycles.

However, it was over whelming to see them using masks without any failure. During the first phase of the unlocking not much shops were open. During phase two more number of shops were opened and people started moving around since public transportation was allowed.

Though they were using facemasks, people were not maintaining social distancing. Desuups were moving around to monitor the unlocking. The taxi parking was full and buses were moving around with fewer passengers. They are allowed to carry only 50 percent of the passengers.

Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said that they are unlocking the lockdown in phase wise manner to avoid the problems faced by other countries who unlocked at one and saw a spike in the number of cases.

Therefore, “We are doing it phase wise to avoid such a situation in the country. The unlocking of lockdown is being implemented according to the situation.”

During second phase of the unlocking shops apart from restaurants, medical stores and groceries, hardware and workshops are allowed to operate.

Lyonpo said that it is not sure when this pandemic will end and therefore people should be more responsible and careful. “Usage of facemask is mandatory henceforth and it has to be used properly. People have the habit of covering their chin with facemask while in some cases, mask were seen hanging from the ear. Facemask is to cover the mouth and nose,” she said.

However, usage of facemask at home within one’s family is not needed.

Until and unless there is something urgent people are asked to stay home. Even if they have to go out, they have to wear masks, maintain social distancing while outside and wash hands after returning and before coming into contact with any family member.

“No gathering will be allowed from now on. There could be some situation where people have to gather and for that, a separate SOP will be issued by the PMO,” Lyonpo said.

Rinzin, a taxi driver said that he returned home after lunch since there were no passengers unlike in the past and this can be due to closure of offices and most of the shops. “Taxi parking is full but people today prefer walking. Buses are moving around but passengers were very few. People seem reluctant to come due to fear,” he said.

33-year-old Dorji, a resident at Babesa shared that his 4-year-old son has a habit of going for walk and ride every evening and the few days of lockdown was challenging as his son demanded going out.

“He kept crying for few days and he was fine than and he never mentioned about going out since then. However, after seeing a lot of people moving around in his neighborhood and seeing other kids riding, he started demanding and I had to bring him out,” he added.

They are maintaining social distancing at least, he said.

Meanwhile, people who are stranded in different Dzongkhags around the country were assisted by the taskforce in the east, south and central regions and they will continue to do so.

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