After the announcement of the second National Lockdown on 22 December, the zoning system was implemented across the country.
Head of the Office of Performance Management under His Majesty’s Secretariat, Karma Yonten, said His Majesty is worried about the hardship and difficulties faced by the people if they are locked up for too long.
The zoning system will open up so that the people can come out, but at the same time, it is important to ensure that safety of the public this time. The lockdown is quite different from the lockdown in the past. Because in the past while there were few cases and they were all traced and kept under isolation, but this time, the contact tracing is still going on and positive cases are still being found. So when the zoning system is implemented and as people go outside, the safety of the public is of paramount importance.
Karma Yonten said there is a slight difference in the current zoning system as compared to the previous one. The fundamentals of the zoning system still remain the same. So when zoning system started, it divided Thimphu Thromde and the two super zones, in the North and South, into 15 super zones and 44 zones and 11 self-contained zones. The structure of the zones and super zones will not change. The works are also planned based on the super zones and zone structures.
Timing has been reduced during this lockdown. The morning timing block is from 9 am to 11 am, afternoon timing block from 12 noon to 2pm and for evening from 3pm to 5pm because after 5pm it starts getting dark. Due to small changes, new movement cards will not be issued. However, the public is requested to take note of the timing changes and only come out during the revised timing. DeSuups and the police will monitor to ensure that people only come out during those times.
Only one person from each household can come out with the card hanging visibly on the chest area so as to show movement within the given timing and correct zone. The public is requested not to cross over and go to the other zones. People are requested to call 1010 to register if you require a new card or register on desuung.org.bt website.
Since some of the zones are declared red zones, the TAG team has advised that as long as people living in the houses do not come out during this time, it is quite safe. The primary purpose of the opening up of the zones is so that people can come out for shopping.
Karma Yonten said it is very challenging and risky to deliver vegetables and other items from the centralized locations, like Centenary Farmers” Market (CFM) to all zones across Thimphu. For example, if somebody is infected at CFM then it is highly possible that the person could spread the virus unknowingly when making deliveries.
“Fortunately, it did not happen during the first lockdown because there was not many cases in Thimphu. But right now, the situation is different and there are more positive cases coming in everyday, and this is one the reasons, there will not be delivery system this time. It is safer for people to come out and go and buy the essential goods required from the shops than to have centralized delivery systems,” said Karma Yonten.
“While we are into opening of the zones, we are making sure that the safety of the people are maintained. So unlike the situation in the previous lockdown, where we did not test any of the shopkeepers, but this time, we are making it prerequisite for all the shopkeepers and all the helpers to be tested before opening of the shops,” he added.
Thimphu Thromde will deliver the goods to the houses where there are elder people who are unable to come out or if a person has small children and there is no one to look after them, such households should call 1009 for delivery of the goods.
Some of the houses that have positive cases, where the people are required to stay within their homes for the safety of the other people can call 1009 and DeSuups with special PPE (DeSuup Plus) will make the special deliveries to such houses.
All the task force members for the zoning task force were tested and they are found to be negative and since we operate out of the De-Suung Headquarter, all the DeSuups working in the headquarter have been tested and all are negative. We are following the protocol very strictly this time, said Karma Yonten.
As for the zoning system in other dzongkhags, Paro Dzongda, Tenzin Thinley, said Shaba and Khangkhu areas in Paro are totally shut down as they are red zone areas. Nearby these areas are buffer zones and certain town areas are also kept as buffer zones. However, the movement card system was applied later. The people in Paro are requested to stay at home because this time it is little contagious and there is high risk. Dzongkhag will coordinate in supplying of essential items.
Similarly, Bumthang Dzongrab said Bumthang was not able to implement the zoning system immediately but since the dzongkhag has already implemented zoning system in the previous lockdown, they will follow the same system. Since positive cases were detected, so it is still very risky for any relaxation measure. So far, Chamkhar has six zones and they are working on buffer zones in the gewogs.
Karma Yonten said the rest of the dzongkhags are very well briefed about the zoning system and they have implemented zoning system in the past as well. “They are fully aware about what needs to be done. The gewogs opened up earlier than the central zones in the dzongkhags that because the risk in the gewogs are lesser than in the urban (areas),” he added.
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