COVID-19: Meghalaya imposes restrictions on entry of tourists, schools closed

With rapid surge in COVID-19 cases in and around state capital Shillong, all schools (KG to Class XII) in the Shillong Urban Agglomeration area have been directed by the Meghalaya education department to remain closed with immediate effect till May 3.

Meghalaya government has also imposed restriction on the entry of tourists from outside due to COVID-19 situation with effect from April 23.

“The schools should continue with online classes as per schedule. The ongoing Meghalaya Board of School Education (MBOSE) examinations will continue as per schedule,” additional chief secretary (education), Donald Philips Wahlang said in the notification issued on April 19.

On the other hand, after chairing a meeting to review the COVID-19 scenario in the state, chief minister Conrad Sangma announced that Meghalaya would be closed to tourists from April 23, which will be applicable for the next 14 days, even as local tourism would continue with restrictions.

There will also be closure in tourist locations that have high footfall, the chief minister said, adding that the deputy commissioners would take a call on closure of tourist spots, which usually get crowded in their respective jurisdictions.

“There will be closure of certain tourist locations, which see a lot of gathering, like the Golf Links, which is very difficult to control,” he said.

“We will be minimizing the employees’ strength to a large extent in different government offices but banks, post offices and other central services will function with full capacity,” he said, even as he asked private offices to function with 50 per cent capacity and arrange for ‘work for home’ system for those who can do so.

Stating that shops would be allowed to operate as normal, he, however, cautioned that if COVID-19 safety protocols are not followed, closure notices would be served on them.

Pointing that 80 per cent spike in COVID-19 cases were in the Shillong area, the chief minister said the new restrictions would be applicable in the state capital region, while the situation in other districts were still being reviewed.

“Restaurants and eateries can also function with 50 per cent capacity, which will be very strictly monitored,” he said adding that restaurants should encourage take-away and not allow people to “sit down for long time and open their masks and talk”.

Roadside markets will be allowed to open so that the crowd can disperse in an open area, he said, adding that public gatherings would be stopped for the next 14 days in the Shillong region with exceptions for weddings and other social gatherings and funerals in strict compliance with safety protocols.

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