Bhutan eases nationwide lockdown in phases

Source: Xinhua| 2020-09-01 15:54:28|Editor: huaxia

THIMPHU, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- The Bhutan government has begun a relaxation of the nationwide lockdown starting 5:00 a.m. local time on Tuesday.

The nationwide lockdown was imposed on Aug. 11 after COVID-19 cases were found outside of quarantine facility in Gelephu town, southern Bhutan and community transmissions were confirmed in Phuentsholing, a southern town bordering India.

Addressing the nation on late Monday night, Prime Minister Lotay Tshering said the lockdown measures have been successful.

He said the lockdown would be eased in a phased manner in a period of 10 days. Phase one starts from Tuesday, where people are allowed to do essential activities such as walking, cycling and shopping within their localities. People were urged to wear face masks.

Further easing will be carried out in phase two from Sept. 4 to 6, where movement of public transport within the districts will be allowed.

It will be followed by phase three, which allows movement of vehicles beyond the district with prior permission from police, said the prime minister.

He also said that all the relaxation initiatives should lead to a new normal that is conducive for the society to operate economic and livelihood activities while also ensuring safety of people's health.

The lifting of lockdown will not be applicable to southern border towns that are considered high-risk areas. People living in these towns will be issued movement cards, which allows them to move within the designated zones.

"We will strengthen vigilance along our borders and ensure augmented safety for trading interactions. Special and additional measure will be introduced in the high-risk areas to protect the community," said the prime minister.

Additional level of protection to avoid spread of the virus from high-risk area to low-risk communities will also be ensured, said the prime minister.

The prime minister said that easing of the lockdown would not be applicable in case the ministry detects an unexpected positive case from a community. The government will again enforce lockdown to detect further transmission, he added.

There are 225 positive COVID-19 cases in Bhutan, of which 83 are active cases and 142 have recovered. Enditem