Foreign minister Dr Tandi Dorji and Agriculture minister Yeshey Penjor elaborate on delivery of essentials, including vegetables.

Small shops to open in phase two of lockdown: Foreign Minister

The Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji yesterday during a panel discussion highlighted the government’s plan for a second phase for essential item delivery if the lockdown has to prolong.

After some recent commotion and frustration of people on social media on the initial days of the lockdown, the government recently deployed additional service personnel and strategies for both the vegetable and essential item deliveries.

During the discussion the Agriculture Minister said that although the plans were put into place theoretically, the practical implications did not come as smoothly in the first few days and he believes that moving forward they can provide better services.

 The Foreign Minister clarified as to why the hiccups occurred saying that initially the numbers of the essential call lines were individually owned phones which he said could have been the cause for some of the grievances such as switched off phones resulting from long continuous hours of speaking.

He added that, within the last two days there has been a gradual transition towards better services by deploying more people for the hotlines.

He said that as of Thursday there were 8 people on the hotline, and since yesterday 20 people were on the line and by today, he said that the team would have 50 people responding on the 1009 hotline alone apart from the recent 20 wholesalers within Thimphu who have also been identified.

Apart from that, a few online delivery shops have also been granted permission to cater to people’s essential needs and would be operational soon enough. 

He said that if the lockdown prolongs, the government has been planning for another phase for the essential services which consists of further dividing the 8 identified areas in Thimphu to smaller community groups where a few shops could open and there would be a systematic design like card entry systems.

 Giving a gist of what is being planned he added that initially bigger wholesalers who have stocked up goods were allowed to open up but gradually if the stocks are insufficient, smaller shops could fill the gaps.

However, he advised that when all that happens people should sensibly and follow Ministry of Health directives so that the government can ensure an even better scenario moving forward.

 Other than that the provision for people to avail products like tobacco and alcohol in light of preventing people from evading lockdown protocols in desperate searchfor them, the Prime Minister on 13th August, during a press conference exemplified the need for people to avail such facilities for tobacco products and alcohol from a health perspective.

He said “normally the society labels and stigmatizes when they hear that someone is desperate for alcohol or is an alcohol dependent but if someone is drawn to this addiction it is tough on them and we need to realise being in their shoes”.

In yesterday’s panel discussion, the Agriculture minister and Foreign Minister said that the tobacco products will be reached to people along with the vegetable delivery DCMs and boleros.

However, people requiring the product will have a purchase cap as stated in the notification earlier this month.

As for alcohol, the Foreign minister stated yesterday that the Ministry of Economic affairs are onto it and hopefully will be able to deliver starting today.

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