With the Covid positivity rate in Punjab dropping below 2 per cent, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today announced that restaurants, cinema halls and gymnasiums in the state can open up and operate at 50 per cent capacity.
Relaxing the curbs further, the Chief Minister said that the cap on the number of guests allowed at weddings and cremations is being raised to 50. The restrictions will be eased tomorrow onwards.
The state government has not allowed bars and clubs to open yet and the night curfew from 8 pm to 5 am will continue to remain in place. The weekend curfew from 8 pm on Saturday and 5 am on Monday will also continue for now.
An official spokesperson said that healthcare services, shops dealing in essential commodities and industrial materials, construction, agricultural activities, petrol pumps and banking services will be exempted from the curfew restrictions.
The state government has asked district authorities to take a call on when shops selling non-essential items can operate depending on the situation in that area. The Chief Minister has directed district officials to ensure that Covid protocols such as use of masks and physical distancing are followed.
The relaxations come as Covid cases in the state dip sharply.
Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan cited a Cambridge Judge Business School report on the growth of Covid infection in Punjab and said that based on its findings, all districts in the state are on downward trajectories for new cases. "The estimated trend value of the daily growth rate was -9.2% as of 14 June 2021. This implies that reported new cases will halve in 7 days, under the assumption that the growth rate remains constant," she added.
During the deadly second wave of Covid infections, Punjab's daily case count had crossed the 9,000 mark on May 8. Following a steady decline, the state recorded 629 new cases yesterday.
Earlier, on June 7, the state government had announced a one-week extension to the Covid curbs in the state but given some relaxations. The government had then allowed shops to stay open till 6 pm and said private offices can function with 50 per cent attendance.