Nepal extends Covid-19 lockdown until June 21

Kathmandu, June 15 (EFE).- Nepal extended the Covid-19 lockdown in the Kathmandu Valley for a week, an official said on Tuesday, even as the daily coronavirus cases have dropped.

Kali Prasad Parajuli, the Kathmandu district officer, said the government has decided to relax some prohibitory orders.

“We decided to relax the prohibitory orders,” Parajuli told EFE, citing the decreasing coronavirus infections.

The district chief said people were not encouraged to come out of their homes unnecessarily, but “restrictions on movements on foot for essential work have been relaxed following proper health protocols.”

According to the new orders, groceries and vegetable shops will remain open for two more hours till 11 am from Tuesday onwards.

Similarly, bookstores are also allowed to open till 11 am.

Time limits have been set for public and private construction firms to operate.

Online delivery services and agriculture-related activities have been permitted, according to Parajuli.

It is the fourth time the government extended its prohibitory orders issued first on Apr.29 after the disastrous second wave of Covid-19 gripped the Himalayan nation.

Nepal on Tuesday added 1,681 new cases, taking the overall caseload to 612,202, the health ministry data showed. The country has 63,257 patients.

Some 41 people lost their lives to the virus over the past day, which raised the death toll to 8,506.

However, daily infections have dipped in the past many days after the peak of over 9,300 cases on May 11.

The lockdown measures have badly impacted small businesses.

“Preventing the spread of the virus is essential, but the rules unfairly impact small businesses over large businesses,” Naresh Katuwal, president of the Nepal National Traders Federation, told EFE.

Under the revised prohibitory orders, the government has permitted farming activities and allowed grocery stores to operate with time limits and hardware shops to open in the evenings.

But the concerns of shops selling nonessential goods like clothes, footwear, cosmetics, fancy items, and electronics have been disregarded, traders said.

“The government’s response to the pandemic, conducting fewer PCR tests and not vaccinating people on a wider scale, is really poor and sad,” said Katuwal.

“The government should start vaccinating small business owners so that they can get back to business.”

Nepal, with a population of around 30 million, launched the vaccination drive on Jan. 27.

As many as 691,494 people across the country have so far received both shots of the vaccine.

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