The duration of night curfew in Punjab, imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic, has been shortened by two-and-a-half hours, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh announced on Monday, issuing fresh timings to boost the state's economy severely hit by lockdowns linked to the virus. Hotels and restaurants will be allowed to remain open on all days, including Sundays, till 9 PM, after which they can deliver food, the fresh COVID-19 guidelines said.
The curfew - which used to be enforced from 7 PM to 5 AM every day - will be in effect from 9:30 PM to 5 AM. The new timings will provide the much-needed respite to businesses that have been demanding more operating time to offer their goods and services to customers.
The Punjab Chief Minister, after a meeting of MLAs, announced some relaxations in lockdown in urban areas, including opening of non-essential shops on Saturdays and relaxation in their timing from Monday to Saturday till 9 PM.
While non-essentials shops will remain closed on Sunday, hotel and restaurants will be allowed to function all days of the week.
Mr Singh told the MLAs that Dr KK Talwar, who heads the state government's expert group on COVID-19, had advised easing of these relaxations with due precautions.
Mr Singh also announced a cash compensation of Rs 1500 to the construction workers who tested positive for the virus.
In a veiled attack on the Aam Aadmi Party, which had announced it would distribute portable oximeters, Mr Singh said the equipment are not a substitute for testing and delayed testing was leading to fatalities.
Last month, after the Centre announced its Unlock4 guidelines, the Punjab government had decided to continue restrictions including a 10-hour night curfew, till the end of September.
India on Monday surpassed Brazil to become the second worst-hit country with a record daily spike of 90,802 cases.
Punjab as of now has a total of 63,473 cases including 1,862 deaths.